It’s the last major movie week of the summer. With five new releases, this week is filled with plenty of options, but none are more worthy of your time than The Switch, an affable, alluring movie that plays up the importance of love and family.
The film begins in New York City seven years ago. Best friends Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are out to lunch when she drops a bomb. She’s aging and knows her biological clock is ticking. Without a relationship, she fears she may never have the opportunity to have a child, so instead of hopeful waiting, she has decided to artificially inseminate herself. While not too keen on the idea, Wally becomes even more shocked when Kassie tells him she is not going through a sperm bank. Instead, she is simply going to pay a donor of her choice for his seed and do it herself with a turkey baster. Before doing so, however, she has a celebratory party. Despite his reluctance, Wally shows up, but to deal with the event, he gets plastered. While in the bathroom relieving himself, he sees the cup of semen the donor has left and accidentally spills it. In his drunken stupor, he decides to fill it back up himself. Kassie moves away, claiming New York as an unfit place to raise a child, but seven years later moves back with her son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Remembering nothing of that fateful night so long ago, he starts to see strange similarities in personality and behavior between him and the kid and soon realizes that Sebastian is his son.
There’s a charm to The Switch that cannot be denied. It’s the type of film that isn’t entirely consistent with the laughs, but its heart and warmth are more than enough to make up for it. Aniston rebounds nicely from the disaster that was The Bounty Hunter and shows considerable appeal here. She’s beautiful, kind and loving, a wonderful mother that loves her child unconditionally. Others see him as weird, but she sees him as special. Some people think he’s neurotic. She thinks he’s merely a well adjusted introvert. She puts up with his eccentricities not because she has to, but because she doesn’t even notice them. He’s her son and that’s all that matters to her.
Meanwhile, a relationship is blooming between Sebastian and Wally. His past feelings for Kassie have always been there and his quiet admiration for her parenting skills is sweet, but the growing love he finds for his child is far more interesting. While both work on their own terms, the father/son relationship overshadows the romance. Wally knows there’s something special about this kid, even if he can’t put his finger on it right away. He bonds with Sebastian as soon as he and his mother arrive back in New York. Perhaps it was some type of father’s intuition, but he comes to love him before he even realizes he is his father. The build-up to that realization is lovely and Sebastian changes him forever.
The beauty of The Switch is that you can feel the love, pain and loneliness that come from the characters. Sebastian, for instance, collects picture frames. Instead of filling them with his own memories, he keeps the stock photos in them and creates a family. He has never known his father and copes with it by creating fantastical back stories for his made up relatives. He loves his mother, but he wants a father.
It’s something I’m sure many can relate to. It’s a ridiculous set-up, but the feeling is real. Too many have grown up without parents and would have done anything to know them. I’m fortunate enough to not have had that experience, but the The Switch still worked for me. It made me appreciate the family that I have and made me look forward to the day I can start my own. If that isn’t a remarkable accomplishment, I don’t know what is.
The Switch receives 4/5