Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum
For every mildly respectable romantic comedy the moviegoing public is graced with, you can almost always expect 4 to 5 others that either did or didn’t con you into suffering through it on opening day. To say that this year’s The Switch fits snugly into the former category would be fairly accurate, though it simply couldn’t help but succumb to the clichés its innumerable predecessors have also fell victim to. On the other hand, directors Gordon and Speck have managed to craft an effective blend of stereotypical romcom nonsense and earnest, often touching interaction between characters in an honest effort to provide us with a wholly enjoyable experience, although it’s unfortunate that things didn’t quite turn out that way.
Coming into it, I could honestly say in my heart of hearts that I knew exactly how things were going to turn out for Aniston and Bateman’s characters. Whether or not I could predict the twists and turns that led up to this very conclusion is irrelevant, seeing as how they’re all rendered useless once my initial prediction began to come true, minute by minute. While this in itself is a tremendous turnoff in relation to The Switch‘s promising premise, there really isn’t much else to dislike about the film. It seems to revel in an appreciable amount of valuable character development, inevitably letting us sympathize with Wally as the time he spends with his son begins to affect him more and more, even if this detail is almost solely responsible for transforming the film into more of an affecting romance/drama and far less of the full-blown comedic romp it was marketed as.
Given its appropriately subtle yet sometimes uneffective sense of humor, The Switch finds solace in Bateman as the male lead. Being a huge fan of him in general, one may naturally assume that this statement may be, well, biased, but when someone impresses you as consistently as Bateman has me, it’s safe to say he’s one charismatic individual, and his dynamite portrayal of the overly neurotic and unsubdued Wally wholeheartedly supports this. Aniston also had me pleasantly surprised, and while her role choices as of late sure seem to lack in diversity, her efforts here are terrific, as is the chemistry that exists between our two leads. Unfortunately, Goldblum’s surprising appearance didn’t quite make me chuckle nearly half as much as I’d hoped it would, but for all clichéd intents and purposes, his character functions well as Bateman’s go-to buddy for all his girl troubles and an acceptable source of comic relief.
As successful as The Switch manages to be in the areas I’ve outlined, the sheer sense of predictability present throughout its somewhat bloated run time is enough of an issue to tarnish my opinion of it as a whole. I did however find it easy to appreciate its resoluteness following its opening act, although I kept hoping for just a few more laughs to at least lighten the mood a little, no matter how subtle they were. With ample direction though and excellent performances across the board, The Switch partially overcomes the problems its hackneyed script presents, providing us with a heartfelt and (initally) unconventional father-son tale that’s just a small cut above its competition.