In the battle of 2010’s artificial insemination, romantic comedies- a surprisingly popular genre- there is little doubt that “The Switch” is the best of the bunch. It is not very hard to be better than Jennifer Lopez’s contender in the interminable and joyless “The Back-Up Plan,” but the funny thing is that “The Switch” is actually quite a good film based on its own merits. It isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it is unexpectedly poignant and fairly witty. In a summer that sorely lacks enjoyable films, this is high praise indeed.
“The Switch” is the story of Kassie (Jennifer Aniston), a single woman who turns to artificial insemination, and Wally (Jason Bateman), her neurotic best friend who gets pathetically, hilariously drunk and switches her preferred sperm sample for his own. Seven years later, Kassie has Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), a son who is the spitting image of Wally, and Wally has a deep, dark secret of his own- surely a tale as old as time.
The film succeeds largely due to the performances of Bateman and Robinson. Bateman is at his deadpan, low-key best as Wally, a role in the same vein as his “Arrested Development” character Michael Bluth, and Robinson is absolutely adorable. He manages to avoid the grating precociousness that hinders most child actors and embraces Sebastian’s eccentricities and neuroses. It’s as impressive a performance as any from such a young actor.
Aniston is fairly bland as Kassie. Instead, Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis steal their scenes as Wally and Kassie’s friends, and Patrick Wilson, as the preferred donor and presumptive father, does his best with an underwritten role.
While “The Switch” is at times formulaic, it is thoroughly charming, surprisingly touching and rarely trite. In a genre that sadly lacks edgy or innovative concepts, this might be what most audiences have been hoping for.
Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rating: 3/4 stars
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Thomas Robinson
Directed By: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
MPAA Rating: PG-13