By KARINA MITCHELL
NEW YORK (CBS) Despite the implausibility it’s pegged upon and the inevitable predictability that comes with most romantic comedies, “The Switch”, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, manages to emerge as an offbeat, witty comedy. About a third of the way through, it also gets interesting and has a story to tell.
It’s still a hard sell. With very little in the way of promotion, this Miramax film based on the 1996 short story “Baster” by Jeffrey Eugenides will be banking on the film’s star power to draw audiences this weekend.
Pictures: “The Switch” Premiere
If tabloid rumors are to be believed, Aniston has a fair bit to draw upon in creating her character. She plays Kassie, an unmarried 40-year old TV producer whose biological clock just won’t stop ticking. She is adamant that she wants a baby and doesn’t mind taking the non-traditional route to motherhood, since love and marriage seem to have eluded her.
She shares the news of her plans for impending motherhood with her longtime best friend Wally (Jason Bateman), a slightly neurotic New Yorker who works on Wall Street and who never saw their relationship through the romantic prism Kassie once did.
She has a party at home to celebrate finding the perfect sperm donor (Patrick Wilson) and, in a preposterous series of steps we are asked to believe, Wally’s sperm specimen is switched for that of Wilson’s character, Roland.
Fast forward seven years and Kassie, who has been living in Minnesota as a single mom, decides to return to New York after landing a network producer’s gig. With her is her adorable, yet quirky son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), who seems more like nutty Uncle Wally than his debonair supposed birth father.
It’s at this point the story turns interesting. Bateman manages to shine as an unlikely, rough-around-the-edges protagonist, who is both believable and – despite our best efforts – likeable. His effortless wit and comedic timing are on the mark. He takes the storyline and the character he’s been given and runs with it.
Aniston is left playing catch up. Not that she doesn’t try to come to play. She has her moments and has infinitely more to work with than in her last film “Bounty Hunter,” but she just can’t seem to hit it out of the ballpark. There was little new or compelling in her performance here, 부산출장샵 which in fairness, is probably the fault of the script she was handed, and chose to accept.
Some of the best scenes revolve around Bateman’s interaction with his on-screen son. Dramatic and emotional, the bond that develops between the two seems incredibly sincere. Jeff Goldblum, Wally’s business associate, lends real comedy as the guy Wally turns to with his Kassie issues.
The film’s most triumphant scene is also its most absurd. Wally tries to express his feelings towards Kassie, while surrounded by Roland and his family. While allowing the audience to laugh at the sheer lunacy of the situation, Bateman doesn’t miss the opportunity to show all the emotion Wally’s been holding in.
Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (“Blades of Glory”) only really bring the film to life after Kassie returns to New York, which is well into the story. Their greatest accomplishment is getting the comedic timing spot on.
What they never manage to do, unfortunately, is draw out the relationship between Aniston and Bateman. There is almost an anti-chemistry that pervades the film. It serves Bateman’s quirky character well, but not so for Aniston’s.
It’s the warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing the neurotic son and father come together and get a little closer, without knowing they are related, that make for the real “ah-ha” moments in this film.
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Run Time : 101 minutes