Is the new Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston rom-com 'The Switch' cute or creepy?
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?
Sarah Anne Hughes
| August 19, 2010; 10:12 AM ET
Categories: Movies, Pop Culture
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