The Switch - 21st August 2010

Ok, if you've seen the trailer to this then you know the story and you know the outcome. 
You know that single late 30s woman wants baby. Her improbable best friend is a neurotic, hypercondriac, commitment-phobe who gets humourously drunk one night, implausibly swaps sperm with the original donor and 7 years later when the kid's all cute and inquisitive, it's up to the man to grow up, learn, change, tell the woman his mistake and win her back after the inevitable argument, resentment and realisation that really she loved him all along.
To say nothing of the old chestnut that, because of alcohol, he conveniently 'forgets' what he did for 7 years!

Going into these types of formulaic rom-coms time and time again you get to recognise the patterns very quickly and so the film becomes less about the destination and more about the ride. You also find your tolerance for complete and utter nonsense that borders on inane crap is made higher if either the performances, or the actors trying to give those performances, are watchable.
In the case of The Switch a couple of them are but it's not the couple in question, it's Jason Batemen and, the always wonderful, Jeff Goldblum. Without them this film would've been unrivaled agony to sit through. The kid in question is very good as well considering what a precocious little turd we could've been lumbered with and all in all, and I hate to say this as I would love the women to be good too, but if you're watching the three boys then you're ok. The film is funny enough, quirky enough and has enough little interesting ideas and scenes that you just about forgive it all its failings.

Let me start this next section of the review by saying I have no problem, usually, with Jennifer Aniston. Yes she has made some horrendous choices of late, The Bounty Hunter and Love Happens, but we should never forget she's also in Office Space, The Good Girl and The Break Up. She's a very competent comedienne and when given the right script she can shine. The totally mad and bonkers thing about The Switch is actually how little she is given to do. The film focusses, quite surprisingly, on Jason Bateman's quite complex character Wally and then later on his relationship with his son. 
Jennifer Aniston's character, sadly, doesn't have a character.
Yet again in a major Hollywood film they haven't bothered writing a part for the actors beyond pieces on a board being moved around to fulfill whatever idiotic plot device they need to speed this bland train towards it's predictable and thoroughly beige finale. For example: 
1. We are not sure why she wants a baby, except the inevitable tick tocking of her biological clock, which we have to assume because we are never even told her age!
2. We are never told really how or why her and Wally are best friends (especially as soon as she gets pregnant she leaves Wally and disappears for 6 years with apparently very little communication - what? in these days of e-mail, Facebook and cheap long distance calls!), 
3. Except for a throw away scene and the odd line, there is absolutely no explanation of her career status. If you were in TV wouldn't you have the person, I don't know, exhibit some passion for the career? or at least mention it in passing   
4. It makes little to no sense that she would have a whacked out, crazy, new agey friend like the annoying, grating and hideous Juliette Lewis character (seemingly thrown in there to give the film that thin veneer of boiled anus the studio execs so clearly thought it lacked)
5. Despite not wanting Wally's sperm at the beginning of the film because he is so neurotic and crazy, she happily raises a kid who is absolutely nuts without batting an eyelid and, although you can forgive her slightly for never expecting foul play on Wally's part (because it's so ludicrously far-fetched), when she ends up dating who she thinks was the donor (now conveniently divorced) she never stops and thinks, wait a minute this man is absolutely nothing like my child at all.
In fact she has so little character that the kid only seems to display Wally's personality traits and none of hers.

This lack of character or fitting characters to suit a scene extends to her beyond-irritating female friend played by the why-doesn't-she-just-give-it-up-now wrinkly mess of Juliette Lewis who, as I said earlier, is there literally to be annoying (because irritaing = funny, right?) and to the donor who goes from a handsome, nervous, married professor of Feminine Studies to a grinning chump and simple man-child who is into rock climbing and hanging out at manly cabins by the lake because Wally's the sensitive one, remember...
None of it really makes any sense and the only reason to watch this is for the Jeff and Jason show which yields the films funniest moments in the film and also to be pleasantly surprised that a character as seemingly messed up and occasionally dark as Wally's character exists in a throw-away rom-com of this type.

6 out of 10 french toasts
Points from The Misses 7 out of 10 french toasts

Hard To Kill - 25th August 2010

Double Bill - The Transporter & Kiss of the Dragon - 20th August 2010