The Switch, 2010, USA
In The Switch, Jennifer Aniston plays Kassie, a single woman who decides to become a single mother by using a sperm donor. She finds the perfect sperm donor in Roland (Patrick Wilson), an intelligent, charming and athletic man who is looking for some extra money. Kassie’s best friend is Wally (Jason Bateman) who is against the whole process, particularly because he’s been in love with her for years, but trapped in the “friend zone”. At Kassie’s “insemination party”, Wally becomes extremely drunk, spills Roland’s donation and replaces it with his own, something he immediately forgets doing. Kassie gets pregnant and moves away, and when she returns years later, Wally immediately sees his resemblance to her son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). Sebastian is neurotic and bonds with Wally, and Wally realizes what he’s done. Can he tell Kassie the truth without losing the woman he loves and the son he’s just realized he has?
The film is a pretty standard romantic comedy, but it’s actually very funny. Bateman is hilarious, and surprisingly likable, despite the fact that he sabotaged the sperm donation. Robinson is adorable and the interactions between Wally and Sebastian are wonderful.
My one big issue with the movie is an issue I tend to have with most romantic comedies: the ending. It’s a predictable ending, of course, but it comes far too quickly and is far too convenient. While the ending is one that is presumably popular with the audience, it is not particularly realistic in my opinion. But people don’t go into movies like this for realism and had this situation happened in real life, I imagine there would be quite a few lawyers involved.
Another aspect of the film that made me think is the idea of nature versus nurture. Sebastian is very much like Wally, despite the fact that he didn’t meet him until he was six years old. He’d been raised by his mother. I tend to subscribe to the idea of nurture, so why wasn’t he more like his mother – the biggest influence in his life? I saw his neuroticism as a convenient plot device to show Wally just how similar this young child is to him. Although, I did a bit of research into it and apparently genetics do play a bit of a role in personality. Genetics can determine how one acts in a given situation so that could explain Sebastian’s neuroticism.
While the movie did follow the standard romantic comedy trajectory, it was still an interesting and funny movie. Much of that can be attributed to Bateman, who is always a very funny presence in films. I really enjoy his work. The Switch is worth a rental!