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The Switch

(5/10)

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The Switch offers an interesting premise that is all-too-quickly thrown by the wayside in favor of a done to death love story. It has its moments, but they are few and far inbetween, and the rest is just runoff from the numerous other romantic comedies just like it.

Jason Bateman plays Wally Mars, a neurotic New Yorker who's lifelong best friends with Jennifer Aniston's Kassie Larson. Unbeknownst to Kassy, yet unsurprising to us, Wally has romantic feelings for her. Are women really that unobservant? We see this dynamic so often in movies, where a male expresses clear interest in a woman, and yet the woman remains unaware for years, insisting that they're just good friends. There must be some sort of truth to this phenomenon.

Things get worse for Wally when Kassy announces that she plans to have a baby using sperm donor Roland (Patrick Wilson). The Switch, as referenced in the title, takes place at Kassy's pregnancy party, where a drunk Wally inadvertently replaces Roland's sperm with his own. Fast forward six or seven years and Kassy comes back into Wally's life with a little Wally of her own.

The core idea of The Switch isn't a terrible one. It's not shockingly original, but it could work. The problem is that the film spends too much time focusing on the relationship between the two characters, cruising down a road we've been down so many times hurts. How often can we watch a likable leading male pine over an oblivious female and still become engaged? Of all the ideas that have been to done to death, this is one of the worst culprits, and it's such a shame that a halfway clever premise was wasted in the process.

The upside is Jason Bateman, who's insanely likable. Again, he's playing an archetype that we've seen a million times over, but it's still fun to watch him do his thing. In fact, the cast is what makes The Switch mediocre rather than an outright failure. Bateman is good, as is Jeff Goldblum as Leonard, Wally's co-worker and confidant. He's the one Wally goes to with all of his problems and Leonard tells him all of the things we wish we could tell him.

Patrick Wilson is exceptionally great as Roland. In a way he's definitely the antagonist, but he's so naive and sweet that you can't dislike him. There's Bryce Robinson as Sebastian, Kassy's son, and it's hard to tell how good of an actor the kid is, because the character is so over-the-top. He's a budding hypochondriac with an addiction to WebMD. He also suffers from that child character syndrome that makes him much smarter than is realistically feasible. Regardless, he's a charming kid a decent source of laughs.

It's hard to recommend The Switch. It's not terrible, but it's absolutely nothing special. Try as they might, the cast can't change the derivative nature of the film, which is pretty inexcusable these days. But people who like romantic comedies know what they want, and I'm sure they'll enjoy The Switch.

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