Twenty-one years ago (feel old yet?) When Harry Met Sally tackled and answered the question of whether a man and a woman can just be friends, and while The Switch is more often being compared to this spring’s The Back-Up Plan, it’s actually closer to the timeless Rob Reiner film than anything else.
No, The Switch and When Harry… are not really in the same league when it comes to classics of movie-dom (the former will be forgotten by the end of the year, if not sooner), you’ll find yourself reminded of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan at least a few times as you watch Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman do their thing.
Aniston plays Kassie, a 40-ish New Yorker whose biological clock is ticking like a bomb (at least in her head), and she decides it’s high time to procreate (via turkey baster and donor). Bateman is Wally, her longtime best friend who (unbeknownst to her) has been harboring a crush for more than a decade.
He’s a neurotic hypochondriac who wears sweater vests and knit ties. She’s so carefree she’s decided to go along with her loopy friend Debbie’s (Juliette Lewis) suggestion to host an insemination party, complete with fertility dolls. In an effort to mask his depression at Kassie’s getting pregnant, Wally gets so drunk (and high, thanks to a God-knows-what pill given to him by Debbie) that he accidentally drops the donor sample down the drain and decides to replace it with a little of his own.
Flash-forward seven years, and Kassie (who had moved home to Minnesota to raise her child) is moving back to the city. Enter Sebastian (played by newcomer Thomas Robinson– perhaps the cutest little kid to hit movie screens since Dakota Fanning). He shares many of the same traits as his dad, including Wally’s hypochondria (Kassie, in fact, has to reprimand the little boy about visiting WebMD too much).
You can easily see where the rest of the story is going, and no, there aren’t any surprises in the plot department– which means it falls on the actors to carry the day and elevate this above yet another quirky romantic comedy.
Bateman, as usual, shines (how, exactly, is he not a huge movie star by now?), making a terribly unlikable character actually quite endearing. His honesty and his absurd neuroses help breathe some life into the movie, and Aniston does what she can with yet another role that seems just a bit too close to Rachel Greene. Robinson is a huge find, and his scenes with Bateman are exactly the heartwarming touch that The Switch needs. And special mention also goes to Jeff Goldblum who plays Wally’s co-worker and confidant Leonard. His hilarious reactions to Wally’s realization that he did, in fact, hijack Kassie’s pregnancy, pretty much steal the show.
In the end, The Switch succeeds simply due to its stellar cast. While it doesn’t have the staying power of When Harry Met Sally, it’s a perfectly enjoyable way to close out the summer.