Aug 252010

By Colleen Glenn

Spoiler alert!: read at your own risk.

Romantic comedies often get a bad wrap. They’re described as “chick flicks,” their loyal viewers considered to be occupying the space just below Jane Austen fans on the ladder of art and literature. But a romantic comedy, like a comedy of manners (that’s Austen’s genre, for all of you haters out there), can teach us quite a bit about society’s customs concerning love, marriage and sex.

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who brought us Blades of Glory in 2007, teamed up again to bring us The Switch (2010), a comedy that deals squarely with our current society’s changing customs concerning love, marriage, sex and children. No longer does our heroine seek a marriage contract that will bring her financial security and sweet companionship. Financially secure, independent, and not in love, the 2010 heroine is seeking to do it all herself.

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston pair up in this feel-good flick about two long-time friends who’ve put each other so squarely into the “friend zone” that any chance of romance is too weird to consider. But when Cassie (Aniston) declares that she’s looking for a sperm donor, Wally (Bateman) feels surprisingly jealous and protective, objecting to her plan to become a mother without a man in the picture.

Wally, an endearing neurotic, worries about everything, especially Cassie’s bold decision to inseminate herself. “What if you meet someone 6 months from now and fall in love?,” Wally questions, launching protestation after protestation to her plan. Fed up, Cassie calls for a time-out in their friendship, and doesn’t see him again until the night of her insemination party.

What follows is hilarious. Suffice to say that several drinks and one “herbal supplement” later, Wally switches his semen for the donor’s. But so intoxicated is he that he has absolutely no memory of making the switch.

Seven years later, when Cassie returns to New York City with her six year-old son, Sebastian, the similarities between Wally and Sebastian seem uncanny…That is, until Wally begins to remember what he did at Cassie’s party seven years ago.

Bateman shines in this film as a charmingly phobic “man-boy,” a role not too far from the adorable Michael Bluth that Bateman played in Arrested Development. Aniston delivers a genuine performance as a woman who lets go of the “First comes marriage…” fairytale and takes matters into her own hands. Bateman and Aniston have great comic timing, and good chemistry to boot.

A solid cast of supporting actors, including Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis, round out the film. Goldblum, in particular, steals the spotlight with his captivating charisma and comical wit.

Thomas Robinson, the child who plays Sebastian (Cassie’s son) is engaging and not as annoying as most other child actors. The film could stand to trim a few of Robinson’s scenes (when did it become “cute” to give children overly sophisticated dialogue? Was it in 1990 with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone?) as it is really the story between Cassie and Wally that we wish to see unfold. Overall, however, the movie does a nice job of developing its characters while focusing on the primary tension of the plot.

The Switch is not bad. Not fantastic, mind you, but pretty good. The Switch might even encourage you to stop waiting for life to happen and make it happen for yourself.

Now, who says rom-coms aren’t important?

The Switch is currently playing at several theatres in Lexington.