The tragedy of The Switch is that buried deep inside this cheesy rom-com is the kernel of a good idea. What seems like the ultimate stock rom-com premise — single woman decides to get artificially inseminated, but her quasi-platonic-but-strangely-attractive best friend (Jason Bateman) gets drunk and switches the sperm sample with his own (hey, wasn’t this already the plot of a Jennifer Lopez movie? that one where she had to clench to keep jizz from spilling out of her vag in the trailer?) — is actually based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides, who’s nothing if not offbeat.
As it so often goes in Hollywood, all of the icky weirdness of the Eugenides story (read: the interesting part) has been stripped away, until the only non-painfully formulaic element that remains is Jennifer Aniston’s “insemination party.” She’s apparently invited all of her friends over to her apartment (including the requisite “kooky best girlfriend”, Juliette Lewis) to drink queeftinis and blow confetti horns while the sperm donor dude she found on Craigslist goes in the bathroom to jack off. Really, that’s what happens. Juliette and the girls throw beads and down jello shots and wear tiaras like it’s a Mardi Gras rave party and escort the sperm donor guy to the bathroom to whack it, and when he comes out, they cheer and ask flirty questions like “Well how’d it go in there, big boy!” As if the guy who just had a self-conscious spank sesh in a total stranger’s Crate and Barrel bathroom would be able to share any interesting detail about the experience other than “well now that you mention it, it was kind of hard holding that little cup up to my d*ck while I was in the throes of orgasm. I’ve got a pretty powerful stream, I think a couple of the sperm mighta got concussed, but hopefully the others will beat them to the party, right?”
The communal co-ed, whack-off party was kind of an interesting concept, and pretty effed up when you think about it, but from what I can tell, it’s basically the only element that remains from the original Eugenides story. Only now, it just seems out of place, because it’s sandwiched between a f*cking Jennifer Aniston movie.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you pretty much know what happens from there. Jason Bateman gets trashed (but not too trashed — movie trashed) and replaces the donor sperm with his own. (You can tell when he gets the idea to do this because he looks down at his crotch and back at the empty cup and down and back again about sixteen times just to be sure to drive the point home). Blah blah blah, she moves away, he moves on, she moves back again, blah blah blah, advice from Jeff Goldblum, SAD MUSICAL INTERLUDE, why can’t they just tell each other the truth???
Once Jennifer Aniston returns with the fruit of Jason Bateman’s loom, so begins the major thrust of the movie: THE MINIATURE JASON BATEMAN DOLL SHOW. Kids are very distinct from adults and fascinating in their own way, but MINIATURE ADULTS ARE SO MUCH CUTER. The kid, Thomas Robinson, is a solid actor and oh-so-cute, but if you take one thing away from this review, let it be this warning:
DO NOT TRUST THE JASON BATEMAN DOLL! HE IS PURE EVIL! HE WILL SUCK OUT YOUR BRAIN AND REPLACE IT WITH PAPER SHAVINGS FROM THE POTTERY BARN! THIS IS NOT A CHILD! IT IS A SECRET DWARF HOOKER REANIMATED FROM THE PET CEMETARY GRAVEYARD! I KNOW, HE IS CUTE! HE CAN SAY ADULT WORDS! HE CAN GRIP OBJECTS WITH HIS ADORABLE HALF-SIZED CLAWS! YOU CAN DRESS HIM IN SWEATERS AND PLAID! HE IS THE LATEST MODEL! BUT WHEN YOU TRY TO PULL HIS STRING TO MAKE HIM TALK, YOU WILL REALIZE IT IS HE WHO PULLS THE STRINGS! NOW YOU’RE HAPPY! NOW YOU’RE SAD! NOW YOU SAY ‘AWW’! PINCH MY CHEEKS! RUFFLE MY HAIR! DO MY BIDDING, HUMAN!
If you’re kind of a yuppie and you drive a new model beige foreign sedan and have a Blackberry for your job and go to spin class and like white people stuff, you’ll probably love this movie. If you’re dating or married to one of these people (and I don’t blame you, they tend to be attractive and often pleasant to be around), you’ll have to stifle all your frustrated reactions to the manufactured cuteness while your mate coos over miniature Jason Bateman and you just sit there wishing you were a tiny bit dumber and less cynical like your non-culture-snob boy or girlfriend.
Bottom line, if you like sh*tty, cutesy sh*t, you’ll love this sh*tty, cutesy piece of sh*t. Does it make a piece of sh*t better if it’s a perfectly manufactured, smooth and uniform piece of sh*t? Because that’s what this is. It’s a really nice piece of sh*t. One to be admired, bronzed and incorporated as a necklace pendant.