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Review: The Switch

6th September 2010

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Poor Jennifer Aniston. It doesn't help that her former televisual glory in Friends is repeated ad infinitum while she continuously fails in one big screen outing after the next to hit those heady heights of excellent writing, perfectly pitched to her kooky, everywoman charm.

The Switch

Instead she now wades through the mire of mediocre menopausal fare like (ugh!) Love Happens or (gagh!) Marley and Me, while her eyes seem to scream "Everything's fine! There's still hope for me! I'll be back on top soon enough!" in ever-diminishing echoes. Her latest headlining romantic comedy affair will do nothing to pay credence to those cries, not least because there's a severe lack of both romance and comedy.

In a plot that seems to have been put together by drawing balls from a rom-com tombola, Aniston plays a single, modern, New York career gal whose biological clock starts a-tickin' and she decides she wants a baby. She isn't about to wait for the right man to come along to get started so she's going the donor route. Jason Bateman is her long-time BFF who, surprise surprise, has undeclared feelings for her and is slightly put out that she wouldn't want to choose him for such a task. Blah blah blah, she finds a handsome, perfect donor man, yadda yadda yadda, Bateman gets drunk and loses the donor sperm and substitutes his own, Aniston moves away to raise the baby, seven years later she comes back and the kid's displaying some familiar tendencies to our protagonist here. Cue some awkward kiddie bonding and learning responsibility, trying to win the girl's heart, all the while angsting over how to come clean about the whole thing, goodness whatever is a boy to do? Well you've got at least three of the big plot cliches in there already, hilarity should surely ensue, no? No.

The Switch is an Ikea display kitchen of a film - all the elements appear to be there, but nothing works. For all the comedy cliches, nothing is played for outright laughs, which would be fine if there was a sharp script with some sparky dialogue. What we have instead is completely flat and hollow. Somewhere about an hour in you realise the amount of polite chuckles raised throughout can be counted on one hand, while the contrived mix of plots serve only to undermine each other and an undeniably talented cast is wasted on vacuous, cipherous characters. Aniston herself serves simply as the means of production of the kid in question before going after "The Wrong Guy" to add a hint of will-they-won't-they. The crux of the plot falls on Jason Bateman's bonding with young Sebastian, played by Thomas Robinson, who is cute enough but not half as captivating as the filmmakers want him to be. Another old cliche of a child wise beyond his years means the two start getting on well enough after only a couple of bland conversations, while Bateman's supposed angst over telling the truth comes into play very late as the script has him completely forget it happened due to the alcohol, then quite suddenly remember SEVEN YEARS LATER. As the requisite best friends, first Jeff Goldblum has the charisma to at least bring something to a role that sees him simply as a sounding board for exposition, while Juliette Lewis may as well have put her lines on a tape recorder and strapped it to a cardboard cut-out of herself for all the enlightenment she brings.

A completely vapid waste of talent and time. For immature-man-bonds-with-small-child comedy, even Big Daddy is better than this.

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