Mea Culpa: We Were Wrong about ‘The Switch’

Saturday, March 26, 2011
By Kevin Crossman

Back when Rick Duran and I announced the nominees for this the 2010 Earmuff Awards, former Tribute editor Mario Bernengo posted this comment:

I can’t believe Jason Bateman was overlooked. His performance in The Switch was, in my opinion, one of the year’s best, and by a mile, any category, and would have easily fit the bill for either Best Actor, Henry Poole (it’s kind of dramatic, despite being billed as a rom-com), or Frat Pack Friend. If the movie and theme weren’t so “slight” (by award show standards), it could have competed for a Globe. He played to his strengths comedically - and was very, very funny - but he also showed a never-before-seen dramatic range, conveyed with such nuance, restraint, and delicacy, that my heart broke for him in every other scene.

Mario’s post was the subject of some debate between Rick and I but we felt good about our nomination picks. You see, The Switch didn’t get great reviews, and was essentially “dumped” into theatres in late August where it quickly came and went. It was not on a fast-track for home video release (like most other summer movies) and in fact only made it to home video after the Earmuff nominations were announced. All of which led to neither of us seeing the film. Mario is a good guy, but come on. Jason Bateman? Not going to lose sleep over missing that one.

Jason Bateman in The Switch

Jason Bateman in The Switch

Turns out we were wrong.

Based in part on Mario’s rave reviews, I sought out The Switch after it finally made it out on NetFlix. The film was marketed as a quirky rom-com about a single woman played by Jennifer Aniston who decides to have a baby with a sperm donor. Unfortunately, her lovelorn best friend played by Bateman accidentally spills the seed after getting drunk, so he replaces it with his own. Years later, the child seems to be oddly similar to the best friend…

Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck with none of the visual and pop culture sensibilities that made their film Blades of Glory a Frat Pack classic, The Switch instead plays like those old “New York” comedies from the Eighties. Gordon and Speck take the sensibility and look of those films and infuse it with modern references and 21st century problems. But anchoring the entire movie is a moving and endearing performance from Jason Bateman. He is such a “tool” at the start of the film, but the story between Bateman and his son, played by Thomas Robinson, is truly moving. You really root for the character.

Much was made of the film’s title change from The Baster (based on the short story the film was based on) to The Switch. At the time it seemed like yet-another marketing decision based on a studio trying to play it safe. Instead, there are thematic elements that truly make more sense with the new title.

Of course, if we could go back into time machine would we “switch” our vote? Of course we would. Bateman delivers a truly outstanding performance. I still don’t know if I would have tapped him to the winner in the category but he definitely deserved to be there. Mea culpa!


Jason Bateman in The Switch

Of course, this is not to say that if the nominations and award recipients were awarded under the old fan-voting system that Bateman would have stood a better chance of recognition. Of that I am sure. As I noted in my original comment to Mario, nobody saw this movie - so no way the fans would have voted this way.

Speaking of which, we also got flack about essentially snubbing Todd Phillips’ road-trip Due Date.  Well, turns out I recently caught up on that one too, and let’s just say that there will be no “mea culpa” posts about that movie. We correctly tapped Danny McBride’s cameo for a nomination and that particular scene was outstanding. But there was a lot not to love in Due Date, starting with the two main characters that best described as “the suffering prick” and “the guy who is even less likable than the suffering prick.”   Let’s just say that I liked Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis a whole lot better in Iron Man 2 and Dinner for Schmucks last year and leave it at that.

4 Responses to “Mea Culpa: We Were Wrong about ‘The Switch’”

  1. Mario

    Hey, I’m glad someone else saw it, finally - and liked it!

  2. Pru

    And to think I withheld from voting before because I hadn’t seen all the films nominated. D’oh!

    I saw the The Switch in theaters, I liked it too. I even Netflix’d it, it held up pretty well. I also saw Due Date in theaters, didn’t think much of that one either.

  3. Beth

    did anyone see the article in entertainment weekly a couple weeks ago that essentially said the same thing? they gave it a better review second time around as well. my boyfriend and i also watched this a couple days ago via netflix and we said the same thing. i always like jason bateman, but i thought it was funny and sweet, and was better than probably most “romantic comedies” that have come out in the last year!

  4. Rick

    Just finished watching this. Kevin, you are now right about The Switch. Bateman is fantastic in this. Easily the best performance from any Arrested Development alumni since the show.


Leave a Reply