The Switch is a surprisingly unique romantic comedy. Several thematic elements provide a contrastingly serious tone that keeps the lighter antics from straying from believability. While the film’s structure follows a fairly formulaic route, the characters stand out with superb chemistry and witty dialogue. Jason Bateman perfectly captures the neurotic best friend that wishes for more and young newcomer Thomas Robinson offers a brilliant performance as the introverted, worrisome son. Jennifer Aniston also fills her role well and the supporting cast shines with Jeff Goldblum chewing up his scenes with giddy relish.New Yorker Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston) sees her biological clock ticking down and decides she wants a child – even if there’s no man in the picture. Opting for a sperm donor against her best friend Wally Mars’ (Jason Bateman) advice, she chooses handsome, athletic Roland (Patrick Wilson) to be the honorary father. When Kassie’s friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis) throws her an insemination party, Wally drowns his disapproval in alcohol and in a drunken stupor winds up switching Roland’s donation with his own. After becoming pregnant, Kassie moves away and Wally carries on with his routine lifestyle. Seven years pass and Kassie returns to New York with her young son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), who bears a striking resemblance to Wally and even exhibits some of his eccentricities. As Wally steadily begins to remember what happened that fateful night, he must come to terms with his feelings for Kassie and the impact the truth will have on those he cares most about.
It’s commonplace in romantic comedies to have a highly unlikely, gimmicky situation presented farcically. The realistic gravity of the circumstance is never fully confronted, except for when the long awaited, nervous, uncomfortable reveal finally takes place. The truth can lose Wally everything, but the only way he can hope to fix his mistake is to speak up about the accidental sabotage. And then it’s up to the resolution to pad the gap between real and contrived, usually aided by a dramatic montage filled with melancholy music and the dissolution of a tricky love triangle. The Switch follows this formula to a tee, yet the characters and the acting are just unconventional enough and just humorous enough to make it a pleasant, genuinely entertaining ordeal.
The dialogue is hilarious, moving swiftly with a prattling Grant-Hepburn feel, despite a completely unnecessary, nearly unrecognizable voiceover narration to comfort the audience in the ways of fate. Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis steal every scene they’re in as supporting characters, brilliantly adding comedy, contrast and occasional sensibility. These are the kinds of actors that are perfect in small doses, written to be relieving, light and never overbearing. Another highlight is Sebastian, who has a quirky neurosis to cleverly match Wally’s personality flaws. The father/son conversations are particularly absorbing, full of laughs and increasing drama, with a chemistry that consistently works. It may not be the most original execution for an absurdly tragic mix-up, but The Switch is still thoroughly amusing.- The Massie Twins