Review: The Switch (2010)

Mind-numbingly predictable, brain-piercingly glacial.

How do movies like this happen? I’m genuinely curious to know. A cast usually associated with far better things, here telling a story so simple even on paper that its lameness can’t be blamed purely on execution. So what was the draw for everyone involved? Contractual obligation?

Friend-zoned Wally (Jason Bateman) substitutes his own sperm for the sample his unrequited love Kassie (Jennifer Anniston) has procured to have a child. The premise is already prickly at best, and the film does nothing with it to make it worth anyone’s while. The Switch hovers between comedy and drama, unwilling or unable to commit to either.

The Switch is an early draft, a beat sheet, an outline without shading or colour.

You know exactly where this film is going within its opening minutes – and you aren’t proven wrong. At first you ask “Why?”, then “Who?” – as in: “Why is this a subject for a movie, which says nothing with or about it?”; and “Who even are these characters?” Wally’s only defining trait is that he’s neurotic, but even his neuroses lack any style, whether unique, endearing or challenging – and that’s more character treatment than Kassie receives: she has no distinct personality whatsoever beyond “I want to have a baby”. Why are these two even friends, much less potential romantic interests to eachother?

I can almost hear the cry of aspiring screenwriters, busting their asses to make their spec scripts good enough to even consider submitting, only to see undercooked nonsense like The Switch actually produced.

I’m not sure whether the lack of chemistry (romantic or even platonic) is between Anniston & Bateman’s characters, or between the actors themselves. All the characters (particularly Patrick Wilson‘s increasingly cartoonish Roland, and Juliette Lewis‘ completely pointless Debbie) are as simple and slow as the movie: if the plot is obvious from the get-go, for whom is this unfolding so lethargically? Where’s the hook? As people, the characters aren’t interesting enough to watch them take nearly an hour to realise the situation they’re in – and none of them is doing anything else interesting or distracting enough to warrant it taking them (and us) so long to get to the film’s conceit. The dialogue lacks wit or personality, the world definition, the storytelling any style or even gimmick.

I watch til the end, waiting for the film to do something, anything, that justifies or at least explains its existence, to offer just one novel idea – and then it just ends, as predictably as it does everything else, with a final line of narration that makes me ask the screen, aloud: “Really? Did you really just say that?”