Film Review: The Switch


   Bill O’Reilly, the right wing Fox News anchor, can hardly be used as a barometer of sanity. In a career that has included merciless attacks on relatives of 9/11 victims through to his penning of semi-autobiographical books about avmass murdering broadcaster, his latest outcry may be amongst his most baffling. The object of his ire is Jennifer Aniston and her  film which, due to its apparent promotion of unconventional lifestyles, O’Reillly considers a deep threat to the American way.
   Jennifer Aniston stars in The Switch playing a variation on her self. Some actors can make whole careers of this. If you are Bill Murray or John Cusack this a good thing as both are immensly charming and entertaining people. Aniston sadly is neither. As Kassie, Aniston is a needy, ”unlucky in love” career woman with a bioligical clock ticking away. Deciding that the one thing that will make her life complete is a child, Kassie sets about looking for a potential father and ultimately ends up paying a handsome stranger for his sperm with the aim of raising the child as a single mother. This is where O’Reilly’s anger stems from – how dare this film promote non-conformist lifestyle choices?
    The logical next move in The Switch‘s world is for Kassie to host a party where friends and family are invited for a few drinks before Kassie locks herself away and bastes herself pregnant. The twist is that Wally (Jason Bateman), Kassie’s best friend, arrives at the party and is promptly drugged by Kassie’s kookie friend (Juliette Lewis) for reasons only known to the screen writers. Wally finds himself playing with a small tub containing the stranger’s sperm and, in his non sober state, accidentally pours the semen down a sink. Armed only with his right hand and a magazine cover, the inebriated protagonist sets about replenishing the stock. Kassie, unwise to the switch, inseminates herself with Wally’s seed and becomes pregnant with a boy. Due to his drug induced state Wally has no recollection of his deeds and, as such, is unaware that he has accidentally impregnated his BFF. The two leads drift apart for a few years and, it is only when they are reunited, that Wally begins to notice the similarities between himself and Kassie’s child.
   Aside from the nonsensical  plot there are a lot of things abjectly wrong with The Switch. Aniston’s serpentine eyes are as unsettling as ever on the big screen, the script is a lesson in narrative lunacy whilst any attempts at jokes have been switched with banal and cloying “wackiness” for the sake of it. Kassie is also an unappealing lead – she appears to have no outside interests other than her status and stringing men along whilst complaining incessently.
   Although O’Reilly may have had a point in disliking this film he did so for the wrong reasons. Rather than be the liberal, crazy film that both he and everyone involved in this project believe it to be, The Switch is a highly conservative movie. It would surely be no spoiler to suggest that the “happy ending” of the feature can only come about when the nuclear family is resolved – equilibrium can only occur when the biological mother and father are united with their child as a happy unit. The “drama” of the film comes about from the possibility that an alternate lifestyle can be acheived and the audience are positioned to cheer a family reunion of sorts. By doing this The Switchis suggesting that O’Reilly is right and family units that veer from the norm are not acceptable. In a small moment it is hinted at that all of Wally’s neurosis stems from the fact he did not know his father which furthers the movie’s ideology that only bad things can come from straying to far from the conventional.
   Happily there are two positive things that shine through from this dirge. Jason Bateman’s performance is, as usual, rather terrific and he is head and shoulders above acting in bilge like this. The star of The Switch, however, is a young saucer eyed actor named Thomas Robinson who lights up the screen every time he appears. In playing Kassie and Wally’s offspring, Robinson mopes and radiates melancholy with an outstanding vigour.
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