THE SWITCH (2010) TURNS ON A FEW SMILES
Even though I am a Jennifer Aniston fan, ordinarily, I would never go see this kind of film. But I got a free ticket and there I was, watching a chick flick. I have written elsewhere (Garb. A Fashion and Culture Reader) about how these films are socially regressive and fix women into their proper place: barefoot and pregnant and married. Which, in this film, happens in that order. The only missing plot device is the woman losing her job (What Women Want) or her business (You’ve Got Mail) before she gets her man. In The Switch, Jennifer Aniston is forty with no prospects of marriage and decides to have a baby. Her reasoning is that her biological clock is ticking, she doesn’t need a husband, and that she has a good job. OK. Her Best Friend, Jason Bateman, is an appealing eunuch and there is not even the remotest degree of chemistry between them. Ergo, “Kassie” decides to find a sperm donor, someone she has met and approves of. For some reason, “Roland,” played by Patrick Wilson, complies with her request and “donates” the “ingredient…and his wife lets him. Now that is a marriage in trouble. “The Switch” takes place when the aptly named “Wally” spills the seed donated by “Roland” down the bathroom sink and must replace—switch it—with his own, gathered according to Diane Sawyer (don’t ask).
The result is merriment, which proceeds to ensue. “Kassie,” of course, gets pregnant, with “Wally’s” baby, but she thinks the child is from “Roland.” She then moves to the Midwest, giving up her good job, because New York City is a bad place to raise a child. Time passes but without consequences. “Wally” works as a hedge fund consultant and he lives through the Wall Street Crash with his job intact. He seems to work for “Leonard,” Jeff Goldblum, being his usual eccentric self. Why “Leonard” still has a job, much less a company, or why he has hired such an unlikely financial expert as “Wally” remains a mystery. “Leonard” also allows “Wally” unlimited access to him and is available for all kinds of sensitive guy talk. We need the new Gordon Gekko film, Wall Street. Money: Never Sleeps to bring the Real Men back into the gambling casinos, also known as hedge funds.
Time-lapse photography encodes the passage of the years as the odd couple lives apart but still not married. There is a nice blind date bit about how strange it is that “Wally” has not married yet, but, then, he is such a loser. “Kassie” returns to New York—new job offer—with the child of “Roland” (really “Wally”), the gloomy and neurotic “Sebastian,” beautifully portrayed by Thomas Robinson. Seven years have passed and the truth of who the real father is must be revealed, which it will, all in due course. But not until all obstacles have been removed from forming the family that was always meant to be.
The film is sweet and forgettable, salvaged only by the lovely parent-child relationships and the charming child. There is a much better movie hiding behind stock characters, the best girlfriend who must be ethnic, the worthy but boring boyfriend, and his too handsome to be real rival. Although the couple works on Wall Street and in the media business, financial meltdowns and the partisanship that is contaminating television, leaves the characters untouched. Although roomy apartments in New York City cost thousands a month, none of the characters have any money worries. Although, taking care of a child is time consuming, both characters seem to be on call for little “Sebastian,” and there is no nanny in sight. One can only wonder what the interjection of reality could have done for an otherwise anemic film. Glad this movie was free.
Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette
The Arts Blogger