Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Switch - Review

The year's most surprising not-so-gross-out grown up romcom. Honestly.

When my sister recommended the Jennifer Aniston / Jason Bateman semen-swap movie to me, I was disgusted & shook my head at her in judgment. When my wife decided to watch it, I rolled my eyes in disdain, and only begrudgingly watched from the corner of my eye.

But from the opening monologue and score, it is clear that directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck are going somewhere quite different than the marketing & premise of The Switch would suggest.

The premise - Kassie (Aniston) is 40 & single & decides to have a baby by artificial insemination, Wally (Bateman) is her neurotic, spade-calling best friend who, well, sort of accidentally swaps his 'seed' for that of Kassie's chosen donor.

Honestly, I know how bad that sounds, but Gordon & Speck play it pretty straight & serious, and though you know where it is headed, they manage to make the journey all about the characters, and their plight is surprisingly heartfelt & believable.

With a great central performance by the underrated Jason Bateman, as endearing cynic, hypochondriac & life-critic, Wally, and an incredibly adorable Thomas (& Bryce) Robinson as Kassie's neurotic kid, Sebastien, this has far more smart dialogue & character development than it does gross-out slapstick (in fact, the inevitable awkward moment is refreshingly downplayed & contained to fulfill only its necessary plot duties).

There's always something impressive about a director who can take material that should be rubbish in other hands, and turn it into something solid & authentic. There's also something great about a romantic comedy with the smarts to make the 'other guy' (Patrick Wilson) just as nice (nicer, actually) as the guy you know she should end up with.

Its's not quite Broadcast News, but it's smart where it could be typical, and heartfelt where it could be schmaltzy, and that darn kid almost made me cry. I'd watch it again.