The Switch Review

How useless are those kooky “best friend” characters in romantic comedies? The Switch answers that question, dropping Juliette Lewis from the script for the better part of an hour until the end when she comes back in for a cheap gag.

She’s on-screen friends with Jennifer Aniston, the typical movie 40-something who wants a kid because that’s all Hollywood 40-somethings seem to worry about. Along for the ride is Jason Bateman, an early fling that turned into a BFF type of friendship. Male/female movie friends? Yeah, they’re meant for each other too. However, whatever screen chemistry these two have makes them out to be more like brother and sister, and since The Switch is so obviously going somewhere, that’s a little creepy.

The ridiculous set up has Aniston finding a man to donate his sperm, Bateman getting hammered at the “pregnancy party” (those don’t exist, right? Right?), and Bateman ends up, um, “donating” his own sperm while looking at a picture of Diane Sawyer. She must be thrilled. Cue six years down the road, Aniston moving back to New York, and the kid has all of Bateman’s eccentricities.

That leads to a few awkward scenes where the kid and Bateman are forced into the company of one another, the slow realization of what has happened sinking in. All of the booze prevented the memories previously.

The Switch is formulaic from the opening frames, establishing that connection between the two leads, hiding their obvious romantic interests, and pushing all of the script-based cliches about getting old while trying to hide all of the film’s deficiencies behind a cute kid. It’s not that easy. The Switch follows the exact path laid out for it in countless previous romantic comedies, the only hook being the sperm donor. It’s hard to believe they would have parted ways or Aniston would have married another guy without the whole “dumping someone’s sperm to insert your own” thing.

They’re meant for each other, so out goes all of the humor regarding two incompatible people, and in comes the parade of cliches and a few menial lines worth smirking at. There are no mysteries, no twists, and most importantly, no reason for this clunker to exist.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

There’s a perfectly good reason for the digital intermediate to see use in every film, and that’s to give the director power over his own work, tweaking it until he gets it right. Then there are thousands of other reasons not to, and they’re all packed into this one. It’s hard to find a film more hideously color corrected than this one, the gaudy chalk-like flesh tones look like something coming out a kid’s drawing when they find out the peach Crayola looks like skin. Teal is purposefully chosen almost as if to stick a middle finger up at everyone who complains about the orange/teal combo. Who owns this many teal dress shirts?

Manipulation is sporadic elsewhere too, at times blotting out or smoothing faces, one of the last scenes with Aniston at 1:31:22 so weirdly digital her nose almost disappears into a smothering of a single color. The whole thing carries an unnatural softness, and it has nothing to do with any special lighting effect or lens choice. It’s never allowed to really breathe and show off any crispness, which is either the source or this VC-1 encode from Lionsgate. Detail comes and goes on a whim, a few grand close-ups delivering the expected level of definition, while the rest distractingly fade into hi-def obscurity.

Grain is typically well resolved, struggling in a few scenes where it becomes a bit of a noise magnet. Black levels are routinely mediocre, seemingly a victim of the brazen color adjustments performed here. The Switch veers cool which is fine until the black levels take that same approach. They have a notable blueish, green tinge at times, not the full bodied, pure look they should.

Oddly, the city exteriors look great. The Switch takes place in New York, so cue up numerous fly overs of landmarks that constantly remind the viewer where we are. There is one wonderful sequence, that of a multi-year time lapse, where weather and seasons are rapidly exchanged for one another, well handled by this encode and one of the few visual bright spots.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

A typical DTS-HD romantic comedy mix fills this disc, and like the film, offers no surprises. The audio is just sort of “there.” All of the positives are here, from the crisp, natural, consistent dialogue at a normal volume to the city streets lined with cars honking and sirens blaring. There is a distinct switch from indoor environments to outdoor ones, some type of sound filling the speakers, quite notable at 1:31:00 as Bateman leaves his office.

There are a few parties, including that whole pregnancy party thing. Music fills the soundstage, while guests yammer on, random conversations tracked through the stereos assuming there’s movement. Restaurants/cafes are prime for some ambient audio too, including effects like dishes clanking in the kitchen.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

The Switch Conceived is the typical making-of, detailing the genesis of the idea, casting, and shooting. A selection of deleted scenes (along with an alternate ending) run 25-minutes, each one given a forced co-director introduction. Bloopers end the paltry extras menu.

Extras ★★☆☆☆