The Switch Is the Latest in the Sperm-Donor Genre
Sperm is all the rage — well, it is for Hollywood movies at least. From the dreadful Back-Up Plan to the splendid The Kids Are All Right, sperm donation is the “it” storyline of 2010. In one, we have a woman who becomes pregnant and then meets the love of her life. In the other (which, if you haven’t seen yet, please do!), we have two women who fall in love and then decide that each would have a baby. While not as successful as The Kids, The Switch is a valiant addition to this spermy micro-genre.
In The Switch, Jennifer Aniston (Kassie) and Jason Bateman (Wally) play two longtime friends. While he is none-too-pleased (because it is quite obvious that he is still in love with her) their early romantic relationship simply descended into the abyssal “friend zone.” Over lunch one day, Kassie announces to Wally that she is going to have a baby. Forgoing the traditional route, she decides to find the perfect man and simply ask for his sperm.[SIGNUP]
Cut to the impregnation party, where people drink while Kassie impregnates herself with the donor specimen. But of course, before this happens, drunken Wally — who is so drunk, he will not remember what happens next — accidentally dumps the specimen down the drain. So he … well, you can guess the rest. Kassie, none the wiser, goes through with the procedure and ultimately becomes pregnant. But deciding New York may not be the best place to raise a child, she tells Wally that she’s moving back to the Midwest to be with her family.
We’re not done yet.
Seven years later, Kassie returns to New York with her son Sebastian. And Wally begins to see familiarities in this boy. And slowly remembers what happened that night.
It’s a multi-stepped, overly complicated set-up for a movie that’s being promoted as a romantic comedy. And this is no rom-com.
Jason Bateman is not the Batemen we’ve known over the past several years. Gone is any trace of Michael Bluth or ESPN 8 (The Ocho). Instead, he beautifully portrays a vain, disinterested, deep and broken man. Still, even from his character’s deep pessimism, Bateman brings a levity and humor that keeps the audience rooting for him. Additionally and thankfully, Aniston gives a great performance. While hindered by the movie’s structure (only being from Wally’s perspective), she is able to convince the audience that this attractive, smart woman would remain friends with this negative man for so long. And prove that this woman could also ultimately love this man.
But the performance that really stands out is that of Thomas Robinson as Sebastian. By the end of this movie, the entire audience’s hearts are in his tiny hands. From his line delivery to his quirky mannerisms, “awwwws” frequently escaped from the people around me. (Though it’s hard to admit, one of those may have actually come from me.) Like Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire or Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam, the directors found a child way beyond his years. But truly, his performance is a testament to the talent of Bateman and Aniston. In each scene, they physically and emotionally react to him at his level.
I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. While not perfect, it is a non-rom-com rom-com. The movie’s first half is weighted down by exposition; things seem to happen simply to further the plot along. And yet, the ending is a little too tidy and quick. I wish the filmmakers had spent as much time on the ending as they did on the beginning. However, it shows greater depth to Jason Bateman. It will hopefully help us to remember Aniston’s The Good Girl (and forget The Bounty Hunter).
My Grade: B