The Switch

The Switch

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis
Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Running Time: 101 minutes

"I can't wait around for something that may never happen!" -Kassie

With those words, spoken to her best friend Wally, Kassie sets out to find the perfect sperm donor, but her plans go awry in Miramax Films and Mandate Pictures' offbeat comedy The Switch, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck and written by Allan Loeb, based on the short story Baster by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis, The Switch is being produced by Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. Nathan Kahane, Jennifer Aniston and Kristin Hahn are executive producers.

Release Date: October 28, 2010


The Story
Neurotic, self-absorbed and pessimistic Wally Mars' (Jason Bateman) financial success with New York stock trading partner Leonard (Jeff Goldblum) does little to shake his fundamentally gloomy perspective on the world. The one bright spot is his best friend Kassie (Jennifer Aniston), beautiful and funny, who, unfortunately for Wally, is content being just friends. When Kassie, in her early 40s and single, announces that she wants to have a baby and doesn't plan to let the lack of a husband or boyfriend stand in the way, Wally is bursting with anticipation at what he expects to be asked. Then Kassie lowers the boom-she wants him to help her find Mr. Perfect Sperm Donor, not be Mr. Perfect Sperm Donor.

Before long, Kassie finds the perfect donor in the form of charming, Nordic-looking Roland (Patrick Wilson). At Kassie's "insemination party," thrown by her best friend Debbie (Juliette Lewis), Wally makes what is surely a life-changing switch, then passes out and remembers nothing.

Kassie's plan moves right along-she becomes pregnant and happily moves back home to Minnesota to raise her baby.

Seven years later she moves back to New York, and Wally, still neurotic and still single, gets acquainted with Kassie's precocious-though slightly neurotic-son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). The two hit it off, and Wally starts spending more time with Sebastian.

Wally becomes more and more intrigued, and confused, by how familiar Sebastian seems, even though Sebastian seems to understand very clearly he came from a "seed guy" and has no real father.

Wally becomes convinced that Sebastian is his son-that he hijacked Kassie's pregnancy. But how can Wally tell her? Kassie is getting ready to get married and have the family she always wanted. If Wally tells Kassie the truth now, he could lose her forever-and if he doesn't, he could lose his son.

But the way a man looks at the world when he is young and single and the way he looks at it when he loves a woman and has a child of his own are two very different things. Neurotic Wally needs to find the courage to face the truth and take the biggest risk of his life.

Birthing The Switch
The Switch is based on the short story Baster, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. Screenwriter Allan Loeb discovered the story when it was originally published in The New Yorker in 1996 and believed it would be a great premise for a film. Allan Loeb subsequently developed the screenplay with producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Productions.

Producer Nathan Kahane, president of Mandate Pictures (Juno, Stranger Than Fiction), had an opportunity to read the script and became an enthusiastic fan. "We felt it had a totally fresh approach to a very unique subject, so we reached out to Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, whom we have worked with in the past, to let them know we were extremely passionate about partnering with them on this film."

Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa have produced an eclectic roster of some of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of recent years including Little Miss Sunshine, Election, Cold Mountain, Bee Season and Little Children. Ron Yerxa explains why he and Albert Berger were drawn to the premise behind The Switch. "We like comedies that explore the underlying social forces in America. This project had a unique premise and it presented social ideas in collision."

But Albert Berger says that doesn't mean the story won't resonate. "This movie, and particularly the character of Kassie, will be very familiar to audiences. She's going through a classic dilemma that women face these days. She has a career. She is very well educated. She has been in relationships that haven't exactly panned out for her. She very much wants to have a child and to find the right balance between family and career, so she goes ahead and does something about it. That go-at-it-alone quality is something that people will really relate to."

Jennifer Aniston, empathising with her character Kassie, explains, "When we meet Kassie she's at a time in her life where she's just ready to have a child. She alerts her best friend that she's going to sort of do this on her own because she really feels she wants a child more than she needs the man, which I found quite interesting. I don't know if I would do it that way, but anyway she does, and there are a lot of women out there who do, so I think it's great to represent."

Ron Yerxa felt that this story allowed the comedy genre to be developed and explored in a new way. He describes The Switch as a "subversive comedy" because the ordinary innocent peccadilloes-losing a phone number and needing to find it, misunderstanding a message and consequently believing a falsehood-are absent.

Nathan Kahane adds that "the core of this story is also really about Wally's journey. He's a regular guy, who is so repressed he barely knows what he wants or how to get it. When he finally does take action on his feelings, he does a terrible thing and we then can't help but laugh as we watch him repent and redeem himself to become the kind of man a boy would be proud to call his father."

In The Switch, Wally suffers a real crisis of conscience over his deceitful act. He risks losing Kassie forever as a friend if he tells her, and yet he has to face that not telling her would be the actions of a child and not a grown man. For the first time in his life, Wally has to grow up and take responsibility for his own actions, regardless of the outcome, because it is the right thing to do.

Kassie, on the other hand, must deal with trust-being deceived by her best friend in a way that is irrevocable. Her innocent denial of the fact that Sebastian looks and acts so much like Wally is her own way of postponing the inevitable truth-knowing she will need to make some choices as a result.

"As far as the comedy goes," says Jason Bateman, "it's not pie in the face, winky, slapstick, kind of broad comedy. It's whatever laughs would come from people being in a real situation, so we never lean into any of the stuff and it's not some knee-slapping, silly comedy. It's character driven with a lot of reactions-stuff that I really like to do and it's material that makes me laugh, so if I've ever made you laugh then you'd probably like this."

"In a way this is a comedy, but it's a moral tale too," Ron Yerxa says. "The implications of not being emotionally honest or going deep enough with yourself so that almost every way you act is the opposite of what you really want and need, that's certainly the character that Jason Bateman plays. Jennifer Aniston's character is strong and clear in her desires. She holds on to her beliefs and is a good parent even in the face of the obstructions and difficulties she never anticipated."

Ron Yerxa continues, "It's interesting that Jennifer Aniston's character is a good parent throughout, but Jason Bateman's character, when he first meets Sebastian, is put off. He has no tolerance or humanistic connection to children and it's really an act of discovery on his part. The very reasons he can't stand this child are the things that he repudiates in himself. So, only by a mutual act of self-discovery can he open himself up to accept and love the child. And the journey here is that you might be a totally narcissistic, materialistic, career-oriented New Yorker, but given enough time if you open up to the people who enter your life, you have a chance to become a much better person than you were in the beginning. So I'd put it in the social-class category of comedy."

'The Switch,' in my view," says Albert Berger, "is really about a guy, Wally, Jason Bateman, who has very strong, unrealised feelings towards Kassie, Jennifer Aniston, who he thinks is his best friend. But, what the audience realises is that there's much more to it for him and it's one of those movies that takes the character a while to catch up to what the audience may be suspecting early on. It's a very recognisable situation. There are a lot of dynamics in relationships where a character has to grow into his own feelings and I think that's very much the journey of Wally in this movie."

Jennifer Aniston & Jason Bateman The Switch


 




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