The Switch is being touted for its on-screen pairing of “longtime friends” Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston. Which is odd because I found their scenes together in Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s romantic comedy about a 40-year-old single woman who sires a son artificialy with sperm that unbeknownst to her came from the loins her best friend to be its weakest aspect. Bateman whose improvisational wit is widely heralded appears tentative and deferential in the presence of Aniston as if he’s wary of going all-out for fear of eclipsing his co-star who also happens to be an executive producer on the film.
Their strained comic rapport makes for a flat and largely unfunny first act in which it is explained how Wally (Bateman) a cranky neurotic investment banker inadvertently impregnates his baby-mad best friend Kassie (Aniston). The whole contrived episode culminates during an “insemination party ” a peculiar New York City cougar ritual presided over by Kassie’s new-age pal Debbie (Juliette Lewis) wherein Wally drunkenly substitutes his semen for that of the Nordic Adonis (Patrick Wilson) originally designated for the job.
But just when The Switch’s foreboding intro has us steeling ourselves for 90 more minutes of high-concept rom-com pabulum the film pull a dirty trick: Its story fast-forwards seven years during which Kassie returns to her native Minnesota gives birth to a son named Sebastian and is lured back to present-day New York six-year-old Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) in tow by an irresistible job offer. It’s a shamelessly manipulative ploy bringing in the adorable pint-sized ringer off the bench but it turns out to be a welcome one breathing much-needed life into The Switch’s moribund proceedings.
Sebastian is truly a miniature version of his father whom he knows only as “Uncle” Wally with all of his intelligence and neuroses but none of the weary cynicism that adulthood inevitably breeds in such types. Bateman is clearly more comfortable — and a lot funnier — around Robinson and The Switch’s most memorable moments are found in the bond they develop.
But alas The Switch is a rom-com and so space must be allotted for the less appealing “rom” portion of its story. Kassie spends the bulk of the film believing that the Nordic Adonis is Sebastian’s true father despite the fact that he bears no resemblance to him whatsoever and when Wally finally confesses to his sperm-swapping she goes predictably ballistic renouncing him entirely. But the two are destined to be together so we are told and their estrangement is a brief one — lasting only a somber montage or two. When they’re inevitably united (if you consider this a spoiler you are beyond hope) we’re happy about it if only because no child should be forced to grow up with Jennifer Aniston as a single mother.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Henry can time travel — it’s in his genes. His favorite time-traveling destination is wherever Clare — his future doting wife who’s known her entire life that Henry is The One — is. It’s true that some women “just know ” but Clare really knows she’s destined to become “The Time Traveler’s Wife” because Henry the Time Traveler once told her so. And for whatever reason little-girl Clare actually believed this strange older man who lurked in the trees of her backyard meadow … naked. (Time travelers you see lose their clothes and wind up nude at no moment’s notice.) She’d set aside one of Daddy’s old outfits for him and on their dates (or perhaps tea parties is more accurate) he’d tell her intimate stories of their future together. A little creepy right?
It gets romantic — but not until she’s of age ahem. Eventually Clare and Henry meet in real time (and Henry hasn’t a clue who she is) and the two embark on a sweeping take-your-breath-away affair. Of course they marry and you’re convinced that Clare is the prettiest most patient most perfect woman in the world. After all her husband while dreamy often leaves her in the lurch — opening presents on Christmas Day … alone; picking up a broken plate a discarded outfit and eating dinner … alone. It sucks but — especially in Clare’s case — you can’t choose who you love.
WHO’S IN IT?
At times Eric Bana looks a little aged but time-traveling must be awfully taxing. He’s a fine Henry (his naked ass is a supporting character essentially) but he’s sort of stuck playing catch-up next to Rachel McAdams' Clare. McAdams is perfect. Her voice alone exudes soft tender love with every delivery of a line and the deep twinkle in her eyes so simply reads: “I deserve to be loved and to be taken care of … because I’m perfect.” You just want Bana to do her right and stop being a doofus or a creep (stop visiting six-year-old Clare!) and stop time-traveling. Because that’s what McAdams deserves.
Obviously McAdams. But to be fair it’s a good romance. It’s about really really really loving your lover through every disagreement disappointment ailment miscarriage tough decision bad-sweater gifting your-dad-is-a-Republican revelation and “I’m sorry my hair turned gray during our wedding … I time-traveled” apology. Oftentimes movies aren’t all that realistic when it comes to an entire-life telling of love. The Time Traveler's Wife is — except for the time-traveling part.
Well it’s no Notebook. Their love while lovely gets bogged down a lot by the peculiarity of Henry’s genetic condition. It could be a captivating romance from beginning to end but instead you’re left fact-checking the movie (Wait didn’t Henry say he couldn’t control his time-traveling? But wait he just now knew that he would disappear! WTF?!). And lovers of the best-selling book may leave feeling dissatisfied just FYI.
I cannot help but admit … I love the wedding. It’s outdoors with hundreds of lanterns hanging everywhere and Eric Bana’s salt ‘n’ pepper ‘do midway through the ceremony reminded me why I love him more than Brad Pitt in Troy. And time-traveling is way cooler than aging backwards so take that Benjamin Button.
Near the end the movie offers one fantastical “bright side” to having a time traveler for a husband. To get there McAdams does her infamous — and adorable — Notebook sprint (remember how she was always running after something in that movie? Usually Ryan Gosling …).
February 06, 2009 6:26am EST
Has Jennifer Aniston's dream of becoming a baby mama finally come true? Close ... but not quite.
Jason Bateman will impregnate Aniston this spring in The Baster. The fertility-themed romantic comedy from Mandate Pictures and Blades of Glory directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon will shoot later this year in NY from a screenplay by Allan Loeb.
Adapted from a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides which was published in The New Yorker, the film centers on best friends Wally and Kassie. When Wally learns that Kassie is planning to get pregnant via artificial insemination, he replaces the donor's semen with his own and must live with the secret that he is the father of her child.
READ: Baster, The New Yorker, June 17, 1996
Bona Fide Productions' Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa will produce. Mandate president Nathan Kahane will executive produce along with Aniston and her Echo Films partner Kristin Hahn.
As Variety points out, the project marks the second artificial insemination comedy to get the green light in recent weeks. CBS Films is moving forward with the Plan B starring Jennifer Lopez. Last year's Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama, also about a fertility-challenged woman, was a box-office success earning $64.3 million worldwide.
CHECK OUT: Hollywood Wiretap
MORE NEWS: It's Official: There Will Be More 'Sex'
Former Friends star Jennifer Aniston has teamed up with Hollywood producer Kristin Hahn to create her own film company.
The actress co-founded movie production firm Plan B Entertainment with her ex-husband Brad Pitt, but decided to part ways with the company after the couple split in 2005.
Now the 39-year-old has formed Echo Films with Hahn, who is best known as an executive producer on Martin Scorsese's The Departed.
The company is already reported to have lined up a variety of projects taken from books and real-life stories, most of which will see Aniston in the lead role.
Confirming the move in a statement, Aniston and Hahn say: "We're drawn to stories about people finding their voice and finding their way because they help us as listeners and viewers do what we feel we're all trying to do, which is making sense of our lives through the stories of others.
"That's why we chose the name Echo--to echo back an idea, a challenge, something that resonates through all of us."
COPYRIGHT 2008 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
It isn’t until later on in The Departed that you realize how important and well-crafted its beginning is: Two Bostonians Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) nearly cross paths when they’re interviewed in succession by Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) and Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen). Costigan is chosen to infiltrate the mob in order to get to Boston’s most feared boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and he’ll have to put in some time in the slammer and on the streets before gaining a shred of cred; meanwhile Sullivan clean-cut and articulate is pulling the ultimate job for Costello by infiltrating the state police department and alerting the mob boss of their every move. As the two moles become more involved in their undercover operations the groups they’re infiltrating begin to smell something fishy. And so commences the chess match between Costigan and Sullivan to reveal each other before their respective pseudo-colleagues do. For any actor who truly enjoys the art of his job more so than the sexy periphery of it all something as collaborative as The Departed must seem like the proverbial “candy store.” Maybe that explains why DiCaprio Damon Nicholson and Wahlberg all signed up instead of carrying their own separate blockbusters for likely a much bigger payday. DiCaprio and Damon do what they do in every movie: give their best performances to date. Each plays completely against type flaunting the fact that genuine movie superstardom isn’t born out of good looks alone. For Nicholson his career nearing the half-century mark it’s no longer easy to qualify and rank his performances but Costello is one of his high points in a career pretty much devoid of anything but. As likely the lone Oscar contender (amongst the cast) Nicholson is equal parts monstrous and wry--or better yet equal parts Jack Torrance and The Joker. Wahlberg steals the funniest lines especially with his inborn Boston accent but Sheen often catches them before they’re allowed too much laughter. It doesn’t end there though: Alec Baldwin (as a fellow officer) soon-to-be breakout star Vera Farmiga (as a police shrink who ends up playing a central role) Ray Winstone (as Costello’s right-hand man) and Anthony Anderson (as a young cop familiar with both Costigan and Sullivan) all shine. Unprecedented chemistry amongst an unprecedented cast is as much a theme here as revenge! It is a privilege to watch a legend who is still so relevant: Martin Scorsese. The iconic director is responsible for some of film’s all-time masterpieces (Taxi Driver Raging Bull Goodfellas) but perhaps never has he seemed so vigorous. The Departed is a return to form for him in its vulgarity and casual-as-waking-up violence--the man makes exploding brain bits look like masterful spin art but somehow never gratuitous; however the film is not a return to straight-ahead mob flicks which would be a copout. His mere aura commands actors’ best-ever performances and does he ever get them here. But it’s Scorsese’s party thanks to his trademark grit and urban storytelling for no one makes the bad look so damn good! His prowess is indubitable but it’s hard to imagine him doing it without a superb script rewrite of Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs from Boston’s own William Monahan (Kingdom of Heaven). His story is not flawless all the time--for one thing Farmiga’s character is the story’s thinly veiled crutch--and it could be argued that the gunshots are exploitatively deafening but this is no time to nitpick. It’s time to sit back feel tense and enjoy the show!