Perhaps the most important part of any movie is the beginning.
Nothing sets the tone of a movie like its opening scene. If a horror
movie is going to succeed, it absolutely must be scary within the first
five minutes. An action movie has to open with some stunt, fight or
chase scene to get the adrenaline pumping right off the bat. An
intellectual movie needs some intriguing high concept at the outset so
the audience can start formulating their opinions, taking in new
evidence as the movie progresses.
And God help you if you’re sitting in a comedy that isn’t funny
within the first five minutes.
The Switch begins with a stupid voiceover monologue about the
human condition. After this, Jason Bateman is standing at a crosswalk
with a crazy old man who spouts off descriptions of people he’s looking
at. When he sees Bateman, he continually spouts off “beady-eyed-man-boy,
beady-eyed-man-boy, beady-eyed-man-boy” until the scene ends. That’s
where this movie sets the comedy bar, ladies and gentlemen: With a
tasteless “joke” about the old, homeless and mentally disturbed.
Later on, we get this line: “I’d better go change out the guacamole.
It tends to go from green to brown. Like your sweater.” Did you laugh at
that? No? Well, in the next scene, we see Bateman masturbating to a
magazine photo of a young Diane Sawyer. Do you find that funny? Tough,
because that’s a running gag.
By the halfway point, I was banging my head against the empty seat in
front of me because it was less painful than what this movie calls
humor. The comedy is made even more horrid by the sloggish pacing and
the totally absent acting. Juliette Lewis is annoying and apparently
drunk through her entire performance. Jeff Goldblum was practically
snoring his lines as he sleepwalked through. And Patrick Wilson… well,
he doesn’t play a complete douchebag, which is rare for that role in
most romantic comedies. Still, he’s better than this shit and he went
through the entire movie looking like he knew it.
But perhaps the biggest waste in the entire cast is Jason Jones. He
gets a cameo in this movie and he’s not funny. Oh, he’s funny in The
Daily Show, but he’s not funny here. He gets a cameo in this movie, but
he doesn’t get a joke. Not one. He barely gets a line. Folks, you do not
cast a Daily Show correspondent in any role in any comedy and not give
him something funny to do. EVER.
The only one in this entire cast who looks like she’s putting in 100%
of her full effort is Jennifer Aniston (who exec-produced this movie,
by the way). The only problem is that she can’t act. Aniston is
so very visibly trying her hardest, but she just can’t make her
character remotely sympathetic or funny. In fact, I somehow managed to
tune out most of her dialogue because it all started to sound like
monotone whining after a while.
What’s even worse — nay, unforgivable — is that she has absolutely
zero chemistry with Bateman. When they’re onscreen together, you can
literally see her sucking the energy and charisma out of him. And when
the two romantic leads in a romantic comedy can’t act off each other, that’s
a big fucking problem.
However, Bateman is part of the only redeemable thing that I can find
about this movie. See, his illegitimate kid — played by Thomas
Robinson — collects empty picture frames. More specifically, he
collects the model pictures inside the frames. At first, the movie tries
to pass this off as some kind of “Oh, that quirky kid” joke. But later
on (just before the turning point into the third act, I think), it
becomes the foundation of a moment between the kid and his dad that is
actually very good. It could easily have come off as sappy, but Bateman
and Robinson have such great chemistry that they work together to make
the exchange novel and rather heartwarming. Then Aniston shows
He also effectively sells the inevitable confession, in which he
explains everything, apologizes and professes his love. These are the
only two scenes in which Bateman displays any kind of effort. I know the
man has amazing comedy chops, but those wings are clipped by godawful
dialogue and the black hole who shares top billing. What a damn shame.
And then comes the ending. Good God, that ending. After the
confession, we get the standard montage of Bateman and Aniston apart and
looking sad. Immediately afterward, Aniston shows up like “We’re stuck
together. Marry me.” They get married, we get a wretched two-minute
denouement and Bateman gets a voice-over monologue that’s a carbon copy
of his opening monologue. Credits.
The movie climaxes with Aniston slapping Bateman, demanding that he
never see her or their kid ever again… and the matter is
resolved when she just walks back into his arms.
This movie sucks. There’s not a decent joke to be found anywhere in
the script, both directors (Josh Gordon and Will Speck) were totally
absent in mind and/or body, and the only actor who isn’t phoning it in
is also the executive producer. It’s a romantic comedy that flounders as
a romance and utterly, totally, completely fails as a comedy.
There are a couple of touching moments here and there, but it’s nowhere
near enough to redeem this.