This was a movie that began its life titled The Baster (honest, you can Google it), but eventually its title was changed to The Switch. The original title was in reference to the turkey baster used to artificially inseminate Jennifer Aniston. Presumably, the title invoked an image that was just too lurid, hence the title change. Was it for the better? I’m not sure it matters, seeing as how the film wallows in the doldrums of mediocrity, though at the very least the original title would’ve given this film some personality.
The Switch perhaps annoys me a bit more than it should simply by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t start off all that bad. We meet Wally (Jason Bateman), a neurotic, cynical New Yorker who has horrible luck with women and a penchant for ugly sweaters. Things take a turn for the awkward when he learns that his best friend Kassie (Jennifer Aniston), hearing her biological clock a-ticking, is opting for artificial insemination, even going so far as to have a New Age-y insemination party, where she’ll perform the ceremonial basting in the privacy of her bedroom while her friends sip on punch in the living room.
Wally, being the terminally graceless muckup that he is, gets extraordinarily drunk at the insemination party and accidentally spills Kassie’s donated sperm down the bathroom sink. He decides to fix the problem himself while in the bathroom with a magazine featuring Diane Sawyer on the cover. Because he is drunk, Wally soon forgets about the entire episode. As a result of all this, Kassie gets pregnant and promptly moves out of the city. None is the wiser until Kassie moves back to the city half a decade later, and Wally begins noticing similarities between himself and Kassie’s dorky, hypochondriac son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson).
The rest of the movie gives us Wally trying to figure out how to tell Kassie the truth, while reconciling his feelings for her in the face of her new relationship with the original donor (Patrick Wilson, The A-Team). Up until this point, the movie is actually kind of quick-witted and cynical. Jason Bateman carries the film whenever he is on screen, and his scenes with fellow Wall Street trader Jeff Goldblum are the best the movie has to offer. But, unfortunately, this isn’t a romantic comedy between Bateman and Goldblum (how much more interesting would that be?). Instead, Aniston is thrown into the mix. The woman is a black hole for charisma, and any time she is on screen the film flounders and loses any momentum or personality it might have had.
What’s worse, however, is the slow drift the movie takes towards heartfelt and schmaltzy, sliding its way into the safest and most toothless ending imaginable. Not to say the movie should’ve ended on a downer, but it completely betrays the film’s opening outlook on things—one that is more interesting—in exchange for the goopiest and most predictable of climaxes. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, some nudity, drug use and language.