Have you ever been driving on a two-lane highway and gotten stuck behind someone going roughly 15 mph below the speed limit?
Even in the best of situations, when you are in no particular hurry to get to your destination, the leisurely pace of the car in front of you can still make you want to stick your head out the window and scream “EITHER PULL OVER OR STEP ON IT, GRANNY!”
The movie “The Switch” is the cinematic equivalent of that puttering car. It obeys all the rules of the road while enjoying a pleasant drive through the countryside, yet in spite of all the traffic backed up behind it and everyone knowing exactly where it’s going, it just can’t seem to find a higher gear.
The film stars Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston as best friends Wally and Kassie. Because of the deafening ticking of her biological clock, Kassie decides she is going to have a baby via artificial insemination.
Wally, who has suppressed romantic feelings for Kassie (surprise, surprise) is strongly opposed to his friend’s plan of action. At a party to celebrate Kassie’s impending impregnation, Wally drunkenly stumbles upon the container of semen from studly donor Roland (Patrick Wilson) and decides to replace it with his own personal seed.
Thanks to the convenience of the plot and lots of booze, Wally is unable to fully remember making the switch and therefore fails to speak up when Kassie decides to leave New York City to raise her child in her hometown in the Midwest.
When Kassie returns seven years later with her son, Sebastian (a cute and precocious Thomas Robinson), Wally begins to suspect he may be the father of the boy and then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie attempting to muster up the courage to voice his true feelings for Kassie and claim Sebastian as his own.
While it is pretty easy to predict the entire story arc of “The Switch” within the first five minutes of the movie, the ride to get there isn’t very engaging or stimulating.
It also doesn’t help that Wally and Kassie aren’t exactly the most likable people to share an hour and a half with. She’s flighty and self-involved, and he’s neurotic and hopelessly pessimistic.
I suppose the biggest problem with the movie is it struggles to find a tone. Co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck helmed the screwball comedy “Blades of Glory” with much greater success.
The hilarity in “The Switch” is hardly madcap, in spite of the film’s wacky premise. Nor is the flick much of a romantic comedy as the chemistry between the two leads is inconsequential for most of the movie.
The heart of the movie, and where it reaches the exalted status of “somewhat enjoyable,” is in the relationship between Wally and Sebastian. When Wally sees his own neuroses and personality defects reflected back at him through his son, he begins to realize he needs to change his ways, not only for his own salvation, but for Sebastian’s as well.
The laughs are sporadic at best in “The Switch” as the biggest signs of life come from supporting turns by Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis (both on loan from the early 1990s) who play Wally and Kassie’s respective “other” best friends.
I suppose “The Switch” isn’t the worst movie you could get stuck behind on a winding, country road, but I’m fairly sure that if you came upon it sputtering along on the interstate, you’d zip right past it without a second thought.
“The Switch” is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language.