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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 45.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Jennifer Aniston is a genre unto herself in The Switch
Aniston as Aniston
Bateman and Aniston in a reliable Saturday-night date movie.
Bateman and Aniston in a reliable Saturday-night date movie.

Hollywood's biological clock must be ticking something fierce. The Switch is the third artificial-insemination romantic comedy of the summer thus far, after The Back-up Plan and The Kids are All Right. Based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides, The Switch is amiable fluff that takes its time learning how to walk, talk and act like the kid-centric romantic comedy that it is. Once it's up and running, though, the story's strange mixture of Jennifer Aniston Inc. and Woody Allen-lite is enough to see it through to its foregone conclusion. Those audience members with the lowest expectations will be pleasantly surprised.

Which isn't to say that The Switch is a very good film. It's not, but it has two supporting character actors - Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis - who are just casually weird enough to stave off cinematic crib death.

Aniston and Jason Bateman are Kassie and Wally, best friends forever. She's an independent-minded television producer, he's a neurotic investment whiz, and the two of them are, you know, made for each other. Wally's hip to this fact, but Kassie placed him in the "friendship zone" long ago and continues to view their relationship as strictly platonic. That doesn't change even when Kassie, at 40, decides to be artificially inseminated with the donor sperm of Roland (Patrick Wilson). Things get (appropriately) convoluted during the insemination "party" thrown by pal Debbie (Lewis), and suffice it to say that Wally ends up, seven years later, the secret father of Kassie's precociously neurotic child (the ridiculously cute, scene-stealing Thomas Robinson). Emotion-heavy comedy ensues.

Aniston has been playing Aniston for so long now that it seems she's incapable of anything else; she's a genre unto herself. Bateman, however, delivers a surprising amount of nerdy charm as lonely Wally. It's just enough, in fact, to render The Switch a reliable Saturday-night date movie that everyone can agree on.

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