The Aniston Effect

The Switch, written by Allan Loeb, based on a story by Jeffrey Eugenides, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Juliette Lewis, Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson (2010): Jennifer Aniston can suck the air out of pretty much any movie at this point — never has a TV star had such a capacity to negate everything else on screen when she’s on it.

She’s like some sort of anti-charisma generator.

Woefully miscast as the quirky love interest of quirky Jason Bateman, Aniston once again reveals that her bag of acting tricks is pretty much empty. The movie itself wouldn’t have been great with someone better in Aniston’s role, but as it is, Bateman and the child actor are still pretty good.

Aniston plays Bateman’s best friend. She’s single and decides to get pregnant with a personally solicited sperm sample from hunky, married college professor Patrick Wilson. And she decides to throw herself a wacky impregnation party at which she’ll actually impregnate herself with Wilson’s just-delivered sperm sample. Ha ha, those wacky New Yorkers! But Jason Bateman gets drunk, spills the sperm sample, and in a panic replaces it with one of his own. He doesn’t tell her. Then Aniston moves out of New York back to Minnesota.

Seven years pass. She returns, six-year-old son in tow. The son acts like Bateman, who is in full-on, bordering-on-Asperger’s neurotic mode here. Hilarity ensues. Well, not really, but it seems like hilarity was supposed to ensue. Bateman and the kid are very good in what is at best a middling script, and Wilson, along with Goldblum and Lewis, do yeoman’s work. And then there’s Aniston, the black hole of modern film comedy and drama. If she appeared in a movie with Katherine Heigl, the very prints of the film could very well vanish into some newly formed quantum singularity. Not recommended.

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