Keys Disease

Keys Disease
Battling Keys Disease at the Futura Yacht Club in Islamorada, Fla. three years ago.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"The Switch": Two Best Friends Accidently Have a Son; Funny, No?

I watched another stinker of a movie last night. That's another $1.06 for a Red Box movie that's passed down the "gone" hole. The title of this nose-holder, "The Switch." It's not the "Switch" of Blake Edwards fame cranked out in 1991. No, this is the 2010 "The Switch" starring Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston.



Billed as a romantic comedy, it eats up 1 hour 41 minutes in search of a laugh -- any laugh. Not only is there not a laugh lurking anywhere in this turkey, there's not a giggle, titter or even a smile.

I am astonished that investors pour millions of their hard-earned dollars into projects like this without reading the script. The fact that the two hacks listed as its "writers" have resumes thinner than a communion wafer should have had alarm bells ringing in the pitch meeting. It amazes me that anyone in Hollywood has any money left.

Having said that, I was flabbergasted when I looked up its box-office gross to find that it managed to earn nearly $28 million here and another $22 million internationally. That's roughly $50 million from which the $19 million production budget must be subtracted. No doubt there is lots of creative bookkeeping that further reduces the $31 million difference. But consider how many movie goers were duped into plunking down 8 bucks to create a $50 million gross. Let's see, carry the 1...ummm, that's something like six and a quarter million unsuspecting folks.

Not only did it take two nearly untested writers to pen the script for this mess, it required two directors to coax zero laughs out of the lousy material they were given. Their collective resume is somewhat heftier than that of the writers, but not by much. The "Poseidon" remake and a couple of installments of the "Halloween" franchise comprise the only notable efforts. Obviously none of these are side-spliters.

Here's the abbreviated 4-1-1 of the plot: Boy and girl dated once upon a time. After a couple of dates, girl decides they will be just friends. Years later they are best friends. Single, she announces she wants to get pregnant. In a drunken-stupor blackout, Boy switches his swimmers for the donor's. Girl moves to the burbs to raise her son. Girl gets new job and moves back to the city where Boy and son eventually bond, blah, blah, blah...

Because little of the movie's budget went into scripting or directing, there must have been plenty to attract an all-star cast. I do like the Boy, Jason Bateman. I'm not convinced that he is leading-man timber, but he is talented, likeable and usually delivers a dependably funny performance. I think he did the best he could with an unfunny script and a pair of directors who have never managed to generate the smallest on-screen snigger. Some of his scenes with his son, played by Thomas Robinson, are pretty engaging.

Jennifer Aniston was terrific in "Friends" and has parlayed that success into numerous movie roles for which she is woefully under qualified. I like her. I think she is attractive. But her talents are best utilized in a supporting role. A string of romantic comedies lay in her wake; all are pretty mediocre and a couple, like "The Bounty Hunter," are outright disasters. I think her role in the cult hit, "The Office," put her on screen about the appropriate amount of time and stretched her acting chops about as far as they go.

Tossed into the "The Switch" mix for good measure, Jeff Goldblum plays Bateman's character's boss. Given very little to do, he is basically there to provide some history and context for the Bateman/Aniston best-friend relationship.

In scoring Red Box movies, I consider whether or not I think I got my $1.06 worth. In this case, "The Switch" gave me something to do for nearly two hours last night. I don't feel like I was robbed. However, I think $.65 is closer to its true entertainment value.

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