In Defense of The Switch

Sara Vilkomerson | September 3, 2010

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman in "The Switch"

The Switch, the romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman that was released on August 20, is currently rocking a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. It came in 8th place its opening weekend, behind Vampires Suck, Piranha 3D, and Lottery Ticket.

We’d like to take this opportunity to defend this movie. We’re not saying it’s  up there with the best of the best of the genres like The Awful Truth (not to be confused with the truly awful The Ugly Truth), or even the best thing you’ll see this year, or even this summer. But it’s way way more enjoyable than its low rating number might lead you to believe.

It’s true that the premise of the film and the trailer the studio ran with it pretty much lets you know from the very beginning exactly where it’s going to go: Pretty platonic-on-the-surface friends Kassie (Aniston) and Wally (Bateman) pal around together untroubled in their respective roles of A-type personality and slacker until Kassie announces that she’s going to have a baby on her own with a sperm donor. And then, yes, there’s a “switch” and the birth of an adorable moppet that seems an awful lot like Wally. And years pass and then – should we spoil the surprise? – things change between the old friends. Inception-like plot twisting it is not. However! The acting in this movie is what elevates this little movie out of the sadly subpar romcom slush pile.

First, there’s Jason Bateman. Cause, come on…God bless Jason Bateman. We’ve been wanting him to start getting lead roles practically since the days when he was on Little House on the Prairie (remember that? We sure do. And we’re not even going to get into the collected awesomeness of The Hogan Family and Teen Wolf Too). But over the last few years Bateman has carved out a nice niche for himself, playing the quick-witted quipper in movies like Juno, Hancock, and Up in the Air. And The Switch is really his movie, as he’s able to move beyond funny one-liners and display actual emotional depth. Plus, boyish good looks aside, the man is 41 years old which makes him the ideal candidate to start taking on the Tom Hanksian parts of the ’90s.

And then there’s Jennifer Aniston. We’ve never been on board with the media’s insistence on painting her as a victim or sad cougar single lady (though we’ve questioned recent career choices such as Love Happens and Bounty Hunter — though she was just about our favorite in the miserable He’s Just Not That Into You), especially when she’s as likeable and relatable as ever in The Switch. So, back off world and leave Jen alone!

Lastly, while we were — as usual — charmed by Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis’s oft-kilter contributions, the thing that really helped this movie was the casting of Thomas Robinson as little Sebastian. As The New York Times noted (in it’s not-so-positive review) “A thoroughly likable, stubbornly opinionated child who cares about global warming and animal welfare, he is the rare male movie moppet who isn’t a sports or a video-game nut. Here is a boy who doesn’t end up winning a championship at the last possible moment and who has something that resembles a real personality.” We agree with this sentiment and then some!

So do you need to rush out and spend 12 bucks on The Switch? Probably not. However if you are anything like us (and the friend we saw it with who was equally enthused) and need an easy-on-the-eyes-and-brain flick that will make you laugh and-yes!-cry, you could do a lot lot worse.