Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck Release Date: 01/09/10 Link: IMDB It’s no secret how I feel about romantic comedies. Well, most of them anyway. In my humble opinion, I don’t think there’s another genre out there that is more systematic and predictable. A large majority of these pictures tend to follow the exact same formula, and it has gotten to the point, for me at least, where it seems like you are basically watching the same thing over and over again. And what’s worse is they always end the same. Wouldn’t you know it? The Switch a by-the-numbers rom-com starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, is no different. The overall framework of the narrative is conventional, the customary melodramatics can feel a bit forced and even by watching the trailers you can see the climax coming from 300 miles away. But guess what? Even though The Switch is a film you could surely classify as standard fare, it still has enough redeeming qualities to make it worth watching. In other words, you may know where the path will lead, but there is plenty attention-grabbing scenery on the side to keep your mind off the inevitable destination. And it all starts with an unorthodox and modern approach to a routine story about love and raising a child. New York TV producer Kassie Larson (Aniston) has arrived at the point in her life where she is ready to have a baby, but the only problem is she doesn’t have a significant other of her own to get the ball rolling. She won’t let that get in her way, however, and enlists the help of her neurotic best friend Wally Mars (Bateman) to find a suitable sperm donor. Wally, who’s dubbed as a beady-eyed man boy, doesn’t like the sound of her plan because he is secretly head over heels for her, but even he can’t stop her biological clock from ticking. Kassie finds the perfect donor in the handsome and married Roland (Patrick Wilson), and after her other best friend (Juliette Lewis) decides to throw her an insemination party, there’s no going back. But, as the film’s previews have shown, the events surrounding the conception don’t go down as planned. Wally, who spends most of the time at the aberrant get-together inhaling booze and herbal pills that could be considered pharmaceuticals, alters everything when — in the privacy of Kassie’s bathroom — he exchanges Roland’s “ingredient” with his. The next morning a hung over Wally doesn’t remember a thing and has no idea of the deed he did just a few hours before. Wally slugs along like he never modified his future, but he gets a pretty rude awakening when Kassie announces she’s pregnant and moving to Minnesota, a place she says is more appropriate to raise a child. As the years pass by Kassie and Wally slowly start to drift apart (they keep in contact only through Christmas cards and e-mails), but they are reunited just under a decade later when she decides to move back to the Big Apple with her mentally maladjusted son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) in tow. After spending a few weeks with Sebastian, Wally begins to realize they have a lot in common — a lot more than any two people who are unrelated should. After finally being able to put the pieces of that drunken night together, it dawns on Wally that he is in fact Sebastian’s father, which puts him in quite a predicament. Should he tell Kassie or shouldn’t he? But before Wally can figure out what to do, Kassie commences a romantic relationship with a now-divorced Roland, who will stop at nothing to start a family of his own. Where the film goes from here should be considerably obvious, but the fine performances from most of the cast are a big reason as to why you might forget The Switch is about as predictable as Brett Favre’s yearly decision on retirement. The always reliable Bateman and Aniston inject the movie with a staggering amount of personality, and even though directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) want you to root for their characters to get together at the end, it’s the feistiness of their companionship that gives The Switch it’s bite. The interactions between Wally and Kassie are rarely sugar-coated, and Bateman and Aniston’s ability to bicker back and forth without becoming annoying really serves the film well. But even though the two leads have some rather sizzling chemistry, the moving bond between Bateman and Robinson is what supplies The Switch with its tender moments of genuineness. Bateman and Robin-son play off of each other so well you might be inclined to think they are an actual father and son, and it’s so amusing to watch Wally and Sebastian go through their everyday routines sharing the same idiosyncrasies. (The moaning while eating works the best.) But for a film like this to be convincing, you also need a believable adversary to the protagonist, and Wilson fits the part superlatively. Wilson, who has appeared in such movies as Watchmen, Lakeview Terrace and The A-Team, knows exactly how to play a jerk without coming off as too superficial. He shows great restraint here, and if you weren’t so invested in seeing Wally find happiness, it wouldn’t be out of the question to hope Roland would land Kassie. And you can always depend on The Switch hitting its comedic highs whenever Jeff Goldblum, who plays Wally’s boss and buddy, graces the screen with his permanent goofy grin. He also gives a subdued performance, but that’s what gives his character such appeal. Goldblum’s ridiculous lines and deadpan delivery complement each other so exquisitely you’ll have a hard time wiping the smile from your face whenever he opens his mouth. (The scenes where Bateman shows his sarcastic and dry sense of humour and the running gag about Diane Sawyer are the only moments that can rival Goldblum’s sporadic appearances.) Look, I’m not going to lie to you — when I learn the movie I’ll be reviewing for the week is a rom-com, I die a little inside. All hyperbole aside, I really do prepare myself for the worst as I hop into my car, drive to the theatre and take my seat. But The Switch is a romantic comedy that presents a rare surprise: it won’t make you want to scoop out your eyes with a soup ladle. Photobucket