The Switch is the perfect example of what is wrong with trying to place films in a category. The Switch was advertised as a romantic comedy. The trailer showed some pretty funny moments but overall a quite interesting concept. It was the concept and the main actor that actually peaked my interest and made me want to watch the film.
The story is quite interesting. What happens when through a quite implausible turn of events, a man donates his sperm to his female best friend without her (or him) realising. The story introduces us to the two main characters and the usual, “comedy” peripheral friends, the “switch” happens and then we pick the story up seven years later when the female friend now has a seven year old son and the male friend starts to realise that he could actually be the boy’s dad.
The male friend is played by Jason Bateman who in my opinion is massively underrated and brilliant in almost everything he does. He has been playing the “straight man” to other actors in their movies for a while now. He was the normal guy to Will Smith’s superhero in Hancock and the geeky computer analyst against the heroic Jamie Foxx in Kingdom. He is adaptable and dependable as an actor and in his own starring role, the TV show Arrested Development, he is superb, again playing the most “normal” character. It is about time he started having a huge movie career rather than an “also starring” one. The Switch is a move towards this.
Alongside a story with potential and a star who can definitely hold the film together, you also have Jennifer Aniston playing the female friend. Another good actress who can do the job and give the story the credit and attention it deserves. The main issue that having Jennifer Aniston play the female lead brings is that people will immediately think this is a romantic comedy and it isn’t. At least I hope it isn’t trying to be because it isn’t really funny.
It does a great job with the story and even the most implausible part, the switch itself, is covered pretty well and you don’t feel like it is too stupid. The actors are all solid. They hardly have to put in Oscar worthy performances but there aren’t any weak links. It even stars Jeff Goldblum. I was just half way through the film thinking “isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?” In fact towards the end I was even hoping it would drop the “romantic” part too.
The film is done so well through the switch and then the relationship between Jason Bateman’s character and his son that I was just really hoping it wouldn’t end predictably and ruin the story. The worst thing the film could have done was add the “romantic” element to the story. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t really funny because the story was good without it. It did matter that it wasn’t romantic because you add that and you make the story implausible. Without giving anything away, I defy anyone to watch the film and not think that Jennifer Aniston’s character is taking the actions of her “best friend” very well considering his deceit.
A special mention has to go to the actor who played the son. Thomas Robinson is probably the best thing in the film. He plays his part so naturally that I hope we see more of him in the future and that this wasn’t just a one-off. Try to watch some of his scenes and not think “I want that kid to be my son!”
Overall, this film is not a “romantic comedy.” It isn’t funny. It shouldn’t be romantic. It should have stuck with telling a very good story which could have had a satisfying and mature ending that would have done the film justice. Instead the film tried to fit a category that it shouldn’t be a part of and because of that it lets itself down massively.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)