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Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 08/19/2010

Is the new Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston rom-com 'The Switch' cute or creepy?

By Sarah Anne Hughes

Posted by Sarah Anne Hughes

When I first saw the trailer for the romantic comedy “The Switch” – previously called “The Baster” – I was pretty excited by the cast. "Arrested Development’s" Jason Bateman? Check. Former Brad Pitt kissers, Jennifer Aniston and Juliette Lewis? Check and check. Plus, the one and only Jeff Goldblum?!

Then I watched the trailer again and paid more attention to the plot. It’s kind of…creepy.

Allow me to explain. Kassie (Aniston) wants a baby and decides to be artificially inseminated, not by her neurotic best friend Wally (Bateman), but by a well-meaning tool named Roland (Patrick Wilson). On the night before she’s inseminated, Wally – who is secretly in love with her – gets drunk, spills the specimen and, in an alcohol-induced blackout, deposits his swimmers into the cup. Seven years later, he meets Aniston’s similarly neurotic child and thinks, "Hey, that kid is just like me. Oh man, did I…?"

To recap: Kassie is unknowingly inseminated by Wally and fathers his child. As Goldblum's character says in the trailer, "That's ill-advised."

It seems that Wally’s so-called “switch” is excused by being drunk and little throwaway comments like Kassie’s, “Wally, I hate it when you drink. You lose total control.” or Wally’s face-palm comment, “I hijacked Kassie’s pregnancy?”

Despite my best efforts and repeated trailer viewings (some where I focused only on The Blum's inflection, others on Bateman's baby face), I remain creeped out. Yes, this is just a movie. But -- even though the premise of the movie is based on a short story by noted author Jeffrey Eugenides -- it still seems disturbing that the Wally character has essentially violated Kassie (drinking alcohol is no excuse for bad/illegal behavior, right?). I understand that the audience is supposed to root for Wally because he really loves Kassie, and rejoice because fate is bringing them together, and acknowledge that the kid is much cooler (sort of a tiny Tony Shalhoub) because Wally’s his dad, not the original kind-of-lame donor. But those aren’t Kassie’s feelings; they’re Wally’s. And those defenses certainly would never hold up in the real world.

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. Posters on imdb message boards have been debating this topic for months now. One message board claims this is “genetic rape”; others say that this is intolerable violation, even if it is fictional. The other side basically says, "It’s just a movie. Calm down." (Meanwhile, others ponder important questions like "Who gets nude?”) Maybe in the sequel, Wally's case can be heard on "Mock Trial with J. Reinhold." (I just hope he has better representation than Captain Hook.)

For the record, I agree with the imdbers who point out that murder and other heinous crimes are tolerated in movies. But "The Switch" is a light romantic comedy, not exactly the usual genre where we find a high tolerance for illegal heinosity. Wally's action takes away Kassie's choice, and that's not exactly romantic. Jennifer Aniston -- a famously childless woman -- recently defended herself against Bill O'Reilly, who claimed her comments about single motherhood were "destructive to our society." While I'm not surprised by the heated debate over non-traditional motherhood, especially considering the visibility of the topic in films this year ("The Kids Are All Right," "The Back-up Plan"), I'm disappointed that a woman's decision to pursue single motherhood is the only choice in this movie that cable talk show hosts find problematic.

Celebritology contributor Sarah Anne Hughes hopes Jason Bateman and Jeff Goldblum team up again on the big screen. Maybe in an early-Bill-Murray-style comedy with Jason Schwartzman?

By Sarah Anne Hughes  | August 19, 2010; 10:12 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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People need to chill. It's a MOVIE. The likelihood of all the stars aligning to make something like that happen is slim to none. Movies are there to entertain and people need to stop being offended by the concepts of them or take them so seriously. I watch movies to escape the ho-hum and stress of my everyday life. I don't expect them to be realistic.

Posted by: luvlydawter | August 19, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I've got to agree with you Sarah- this plot really creeps me out. I'd like to be able to sit down and enjoy this as mindless entertainment, but having the plot say that it's totally OK for this to happen? I can't have fun anymore. This is just disturbing.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | August 19, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Sarah, I'm with you. Sounds creepy to me. Not an attractive attribute for a rom-com. Maybe I'll buy a ticket to support Anniston, now that O'Reilly has bashed her. But I probably will not use it.

Unless of course there is a car chase scene. C'mon, even Inception had a car chase scene.

Posted by: reddragon1 | August 19, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

luvlydawter- Sure, movies are escapist. But I'd much rather escape with a movie that wasn't entirely based on a plot that makes me squirm.

Posted by: MaxineofArc | August 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

One vote for creepy right here. Consent IS a big deal.

Posted by: MzFitz | August 19, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Sarah, yes it is creepy. And disgusting. Just think about the millions of smart, clever movie ideas that never made it to production. But this immature, deeply offensive idea did. And we're talking about it. Absolutely pathetic.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | August 19, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Honestly? I just can't get past the fact that the semen was just sitting in the bathroom during a pre-insemination drunk-fest (as indicated by the trailer).

Artificial insemination is still a medical procedure and sperm donations - whether anonymous or knowing - are treated with lots of care to optimize the chance of fertilization. So it's unlikely that the sole sample would be sitting around a person's home to be spilled. And the doctors would probably insist upon no alcohol in her bloodstream for X hours before the procedure.

It's just stupid and asks for too much suspension of disbelief for the premise to even work. I know it sounds preachy, but it trivializes artificial insemination as a choice for women (whether single or along with their spouse) who choose to go that route. Because so many people seem to take what they know from stupid rom-coms and treat it as fact. (See "Papa Bear" insanity)

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | August 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Ick nast. I'll express my opinion on the whole subject by not seeing the movie. Easy choice.

Posted by: kbockl | August 19, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

And I thought I'd watch anything with Justin Bateman in it. Guess not.

icky icky icky sticky

Posted by: mat00 | August 19, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

It needs to be said: Carm down, Kassie.

Posted by: byoolin1 | August 19, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I love, love, the fact that there will always be one poster who writes "it's just a movie/book/play/web site--everyone should chill out."

This is what is known as having no real opinion about anything and feeling good about it by telling people they should have no opinion, either.

Posted by: jhpurdy | August 19, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer Aniston's character is an idiot for leaving her donor's semen laying around for anyone to mess with. She (her character) totally deserved it.

Posted by: steampunk | August 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

You know what? Apparently this movie is yet another proof that the Aniston cannot pick a good movie script to boost her career date-or-no-debate. Other than for carrying her highlights, one has to wonder why she even keeps a head on her shoulders. You are rich, hot and 40, get with the program! dumped by Brad Pitt? One wished!
Why?! Why?! can't J-Ani can't find a decent acting role?! There was the "good wife" once. And then? Maybe the highilight chemicals seeped into her brain. Poor girl, yeah.

Posted by: ileschinder | August 19, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

This makes me think of when I was sitting in the movie theater watching District 9. I remember that the audience was laughing uproariously during the scene where the humans basically open fire on the eggs of the aliens, in essence violently aborting dozens of their unborn babies.

Where was the outcry over that scene? The scene wasn't played to be a somber moment and it certainly wasn't taken that way by most of the audience...

That I find creepy.

Posted by: LTL1 | August 19, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Alcohol-induced blackout"? Fun-nee.

Posted by: mattintx | August 19, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Amen ileschinder!

As for jhpurdy - what a terribly twisted way of thinking! That's called a Bill o'Reilly by the way. I say chill - this is a meaningless movie and didn't deserve space in Celebritology.

Posted by: MDey | August 19, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I have no interest in this movie, only in history repeating itself - is Bill O'Reilly the new Dan Quayle? (for those too young to remember, then Vice-President Dan Quayle took umbrage at the then popular television show "Murphy Brown" because the character became a single parent)

Posted by: leuchars | August 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

This is a case where it would be super-creepy if it happened in real life, but since it's a movie I am not bothered by it. It actually looks pretty funny and I love, love, love Jason Bateman. By the way, it's very hard to take anyone that writes "ick nast" seriously.

Posted by: LilyBell | August 19, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

LillyBell, you'll probably have a hard time taking anyone on this blog seriously. Please inform me why you would want to though...

Posted by: MzFitz | August 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there are movies that deal with more controversial topics than this movie. Yes, there are movies with graphic violence and sex scenes.

What makes this movie creepy to me is HOW they deal with Bateman's actions. The creep factor seems to be glossed over. The viewer is supposed to root for Bateman's character and his hope of finding love with Aniston. The incident was just a "stumbling block on these two crazy kids' journey to love.", or something like that.

It's just a movie, but it does creep me out that the original author of this story treats the "hijacked insemination" so casually. They expect the audience to view "Wally's" actions through a sugar-coated filter.

Posted by: linswilliams | August 19, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

to jhpurdy - yes I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion AS AM I. It just gets on my nerves when people are so up in arms and offended by movies and tv shows based on fantasy when there's way in hell something like this situation could actually happen. People don't bring sperm home when they're getting artificially inseminated! They go to a doctor's office. Which makes the whole premise of this movie ridiculous. If you don't like the idea, don't see it. But don't be offended by someone else's expression of entertainment (which you could call an opinion).

Posted by: luvlydawter | August 19, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

genetic rape??? . . . are those folks unhinged?

Posted by: RBCrook | August 19, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

This scenario would make a good law school question. Would it be tortious conduct to put your sprem in a woman without her consent? Could it be assault if the victim never knew she was assaulted?

Posted by: sportsfan8 | August 19, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow! DC over-analysis of an inane movie is a total buzz kill.

Posted by: myrlyn | August 20, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the ickyness - consider the likeness of father and son.

Jeff Goldblum was in a movie called "Fathers and Sons".
Both characters had similar behaviors. This new movie reminds me of the genetics involved (though not turkey baster style).

Posted by: ef7450 | August 20, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

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