This is Ron Salfen, “At The
Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The
Majestic Theater in
“The Switch” is one of those movies that appears to be a
romantic comedy, therefore you go in expecting something kind of silly
and predictable, but, thankfully, it is neither.
Jennifer Anniston plays a single woman, Kassie Larson, who
simply has not met the “right” man to marry, and with whom to have
a family. On the far side
of 40, her biological time clock is ticking rather loudly.
And so, she decides, rather personally and preemptively, that
she’s going to have a baby, anyway.
So thoroughly post-modern, right?
It’s interesting that Jennifer Anniston, the actress, has
apparently engaged in some verbal volleys through the media with
certain right-wing commentators who want to decry this kind of
role-modeling. They say
that this encourages young American girls to think in terms of not
“needing” a man in order to start their family.
Ms. Aniston, for her part, has gone on record as supporting
women who make this choice, under the rubric that it’s their life,
and therefore their choice. The
rebuttal goes somewhat along the lines that a child deserves a father
figure, and so something essential would be missing in the development
of the child. (Another
form of this debate appears in the recent film “The Kids Are All
Right,” where a lesbian couple decides they will both avail
themselves of the “in vitro fertilization,” again the supposition
being that the children wouldn’t “need” a father figure.)
In “The Switch,” the issue is handled, so to speak, with
some humor. Jennifer’s
man-friend-of-long-standing-but-he’s-not-my-boyfriend, Wally (Jason
Bateman), is invited to the “insertion celebration” party, and in
a drunken, jealous, stupor, switches the essential bodily fluid with
his own. Therefore, the
fertilized egg is also his own. Therefore,
the boy, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), is also his own, but Wally’s
too timid to come forward and tell the truth, instead hiding behind
repressed memory and lack of desire to make a lasting commitment.
The truth comes out, of course, but not before Sebastian
actually develops some affection for this “UncleWally,” who seems
to understand his idiosyncrasies better than anyone. Kassie,
meanwhile, thinks she is in love with the original “donor,” who at
the time was unavailable, but has since become a suitor.
The emerging point of no return finally propels Wally to admit
what he should have revealed long ago.
Jennifer Anniston is both believable and likable in this role.
She has become an accomplished actor with a veteran sense of
comic timing, together with a winsome “girl-next-door” sort of
agreeable demeanor. We
are rooting for her to find her way, navigating through relationships
that are not what they appear, and through motherhood, which hardly
ever develops as expected. There’s
a sort of distilled, melancholy, angst-ridden atmosphere to this
movie, where everything is not all sunshine and smiling faces, but
trust is difficult, and lasting loyalty is even more difficult.
“The Switch” has surprising emotional depth, and therefore
greater appeal than a merely typical romantic comedy, no matter where
you stand on the Big Daddy Necessity Debate.
This is Ron Salfen, “At The
Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM