Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Premise: An unmarried woman (Jennifer Aniston) decides to get artificially inseminated. Her platonic male friend (Jason Bateman) swaps the sample she intends to use with his own sperm and years later meets the boy who is, unbeknownst to the mother, his son.
What Works: The Switch has some great scenes between Jason Bateman, as the unknowing sperm donor, and Thomas Robinson, as his son. Their scenes together have a lot of authenticity and credibly create a bond between the two. This is a very funny film as well and it is full of witty dialogue that Bateman and Aniston deliver well.
What Doesn’t: The Switch has a serious problem on its hands and it completely fumbles that problem in the ending. The problem that the film faces is this: the lead male character, in a fit of drunken jealousy, tricks the lead female into having his baby. It is not an exaggeration to read this act as at least akin to sexual assault; had the pregnancy occurred through a sexual process as opposed to a laboratorial process, this would be clear. Apparently the filmmakers do not recognize the invasion, the breach of trust and integrity, or the violation of this woman’s right to self determination by the drunken stupidity of this man. Instead the film treats the swap as an embarrassing secret that the lead character will have to fess up to in order to live happily ever after with her. And the ending of The Switch makes all of this worse; throughout the story it maintains a tension between whether he should tell this woman the truth and lose her or keep the secret and watch her move on with someone else. Upon telling her the truth, The Switch actually takes a bold step as Aniston’s character rejects him and the character risks winding up alone but with at least the solace of integrity. But, following the worst instincts of Hollywood wish fulfillment, the very end undoes all of this.
Bottom Line: The Switch has some strong writing and good performances but the inherent problem of its story nags at the viewer long after the laughs have ended. This is a very problematic movie and not in a way that makes it thought provoking but rather vaguely insulting.
Episode: #306 (September 19, 2010)