On The Switch
First my review, then Sarah’s thoughts on Aniston’s career below.
Well, it’s better than The Bounty Hunter. But of course it is.
Jason Bateman >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Gerard Butler.
So here’s a movie about parenting, a formulaic romantic comedy, an absurd – like really, really ridiculous – plot twist that stars Jennifer Aniston... and I didn’t hate it.
Such is the charm of Jason Bateman.
Piranha 3D is currently scoring 85% from Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s an homage to classic cheesy bloodbaths – in multi-dimension. The point is to be as silly and campy and ludicrous as possible. And you’re supposed to go into a movie like this with your disbelief on mute, to enjoy it for what it is.
Are we supposed to take the same approach to romcoms?
Well, it has to balance, right?
If there’s chemistry, if there’s some believable sweetness in between the moments of dumbassness, you’re more inclined to give it some more rope. This is why you love Love Actually and the first Bridget Jones. Why you hugged yourself instead of rolling your eyes when Sam’s girlfriend Joanna sang All I Want for Christmas with a PROFESSIONAL BAND at the school Christmas concert. Why you laughed instead of snarled when Bridget ran out in the snow in her panties around town to chase down Mark after he found her diary. You have to like them. If you like them, your like for them overcomes the disbelief.
And I like Jason Bateman very, very much. The Switch is his movie. It’s not her movie, it’s his show. He’s in almost every scene, he drives the entire story, all connections revolve around him. And even though he plays a misanthrope, somehow in his way he still manages to be appealing – in the dry way he speaks to his son, in the sarcastic way he speaks to Jeff Goldblum, even while containing his boredom while acting opposite Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman is endlessly delightful.
Jason Bateman works. And Jeff Goldblum works SO MUCH. Every line is a gift. Even the way he says “delicate” comes out funny. His pauses will have you chuckling. Their vibe together is gold. As is the vibe Bateman has with the kid, and also with Patrick Wilson who plays the beefcake, the Other Guy, the proverbial romantic quarterback.
And those strengths only serve to highlight the weakness. Because next to Bateman’s irresistibility and Goldblum’s charisma, and the little boy’s precociousness, and Wilson’s versatility, Jennifer Aniston falls short. To her credit, she manages not to touch her hair for the first 15 minutes of the movie – can you believe it? – but every other usual trick is present and accounted for. There’s simply no evidence that she can play anything else. She is the same – in every movie she is the same, in sharp contrast for example to the aforementioned Wilson who is as believable in this as he was in Angels in America, or The A-Team, or the weak ass loser in Little Children.
Jennifer Aniston simply doesn’t have those skills. Instead, she has great breasts, and here’s an example of the tried and tired gratuitous play that we’ve come to expect from her:
There’s a scene in the movie when Bateman goes over to Aniston’s and she’s in the shower and her son is watching tv and he desperately needs to talk to her so she hurries out of the shower – the single mother of a 6 year old who wasn’t expecting company – in a silk nightie with a cardigan on top. The two of them go outside to discuss. Throughout their discussion, she turns her body this way and that, revealing some, um, temperature changes in certain key areas that are so distracting to what’s happening, and so insultingly unnecessary, you want to stand up and scream at the screen – why couldn’t they just put her in a pair of yoga pants and t-shirt??? Straight up it’s a titty scene. A titty scene disguised as comedy.
I want Jennifer Aniston to be the More that she claims she is. I really do. I’d like very much for a person like that to exist. But show me. Next time please show me. When will you show me? Are you capable of showing me? Maybe it’s not a question of capability but willingness. And that makes it worse. Not be able to do something is somehow more forgivable not wanting to.
And yet in spite of her I enjoyed The Switch. She owes it to Jason. Jason Bateman was charged with carrying the movie and he did. Well. He shoulders it all with such irresistible likeability that I would have to agree with Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly who called The Switch “a pleasant surprise”. It’s failure to me was less a reflection of quality as it was, as Sarah posits below, a rejection of Jennifer Aniston.
Here’s Aniston at The Daily Show yesterday, Bateman at the LA premiere earlier this week, and Jeff Goldblum in London with a mini ponytail. Have I ever told you my Jeff Goldblum story?
I was on a carpet at TIFF interviewing him at a party. He noticed my nails and he took my hand and lifted my fingers up to his lips and breathed on them and moaned a little “ohhhhh...that’s a great colour, like naughty plum”.
F-ckin’ weird. And it was amazing.
Is Jennifer Aniston over?
Written by Sarah
I’m calling The Switch a bomb. The actual numbers don’t really mean anything ($8 million opening weekend against a $16 million budget), and they really aren’t much worse than most movies this summer. No, The Switch tanking has nothing to do with the numbers, and more to do with America’s rejection of Jennifer Aniston.
This is the second Jen Aniston movie released in 2010, after March’s The Bounty Hunter, which opened to $20 million-plus and went on to make over $67 million. As terrible as The Bounty Hunter was—and it was really, really terrible—audiences bought it. But it left a bad taste in our collective mouth. It was the latest in a long string of disappointing and sometimes outright awful Aniston movies (the one exception being Marley & Me, which co-starred an adorable puppy, and was a nice holiday hit in 2008).And when it came time to consume another Aniston product, we found we just couldn’t do it.
With a top-flight, worldwide marketing push behind it, and America’s sweetest of sweethearts fronting it, The Switch should have been a no brainer. Jennifer Aniston + likeable leading man + rom-com formula = money. How did that not happen? All fame is built on a house of cards and maybe Aniston’s is finally coming down. There have been warning signs. No one bought her “romance” with The Bounty Hunter co-star Gerard Butler last spring and her “I want a family” rhetoric is increasingly met with: “Do you really?”
Aniston has three projects out in 2011. Just Go With It especially stands a fair chance as audiences accept Adam Sandler (still, unfathomably) as a funnyman. But…Jason Bateman is good in The Switch (as Lainey discusses) and he wasn’t enough to overcome that weariness of Aniston. Adam Sandler, one of the most bankable names in Hollywood, may be able to overcome the Aniston weariness, but Paul Rudd probably can’t—he’s slated to star opposite Aniston in Wanderlust (urban couple seek counter-culture life to “get in touch” again…sounds kind of like the unbearable Did You Hear About The Morgans?). Horrible Bosses is a different type of project, more along the lines of Aniston’s decent-hit He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s a big ensemble featuring many splashy names (Bateman again, and Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx) and Aniston won’t be expected to promote it on her name alone.
I’m not sure a win with Just Go With It will help all that much, anyway. It’s clearly Sandler’s picture, stocked with his friends, and certainly Nicole Kidman’s presence doesn’t help. An actress of Kidman’s caliber needing a Sandler movie to reestablish her credit with the public says something about being in an Adam Sandler movie, doesn’t it? Everyone knows why Kidman is there, and they will assume Aniston is there for the same reason, too. Wanderlust, a Typical Aniston Rom-Com, will tell the tale. If audiences accept Aniston as a role player in an ensemble but reject her again on her own platform, she should really consider that TV pilot she’s been ignoring.
This is what kills me about Jennifer Aniston. She is a great TV star. If she dedicated herself to establishing another TV show with the same determination she has shown working on a movie career, she’d be the number-one star on TV today. I like Aniston best in 30 minute doses—her guest stint on 30 Rock is the most I have enjoyed her in the last five years, easy. Since Marley & Me in 2008, Aniston’s movies have been in steady decline (perhaps for lack of adorable puppies). With a little patience and discernment, Aniston could craft a solid, reputable movie career. But the woman with so much money she owns estates all over Los Angeles—including one home she uses just as a garage for a car she doesn’t even drive—is cranking out trash like she’s a hungry starlet living contract to contract.
As for Aniston’s prestige-pic The Goree Girls, it will go on regardless. It could even be marketed as Aniston reinventing herself as a Serious Actress. It wouldn’t hurt to go into production with a box office win, though. Financiers are fickle these days. If the keystone star suddenly looks less viable in the open market…well, better productions have been scuppered for less.
Photos from Wenn.com and Bauergriffinonline.com