Movie Project #17: The Iron Giant [1999]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

The Iron Giant [1999]

The Iron Giant [1999] 
Director: Brad Bird
Writers: Tim McCanlies (screenplay), Brad Bird (screen story), Ted Hughes (book)
Country: USA
Genre: Animation/Action/Adventure
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston
Running Time: 87 minutes

I have a bit of a conflicted relationship with animated films. I have quite enjoyed nearly every Studio Ghibli release I have seen, but I could do without most of the modern Disney and/or Pixar films. I added The Iron Giant to my project this year to add a bit more variety, though I have to admit I went into my viewing with a bit of trepidation.

It turns out I needn’t worry at all. Not only is The Iron Giant one of the highlights of my project so far, it’s also one of the better animated films I have seen in some time.

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The Switch [2010]

The Switch [2010]

The Switch [2010]
Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Language: English
Country: USA

A romantic comedy with a ‘spermy’ twist.

The Switch stars Jennifer Aniston, who is apparently on a mission to tackle every rom-com role made for 40-year-old single women. This time around her character, Kassie, has decided she wants a baby and is going to go the insemination route instead of opting for more conventional circumstances. Her best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman), is disappointed by this but attends her “insemination party” anyway. At the celebration, Wally proceeds to get shitfaced and accidentally dumps the donor’s (Patrick Wilson) sperm (conveniently left in a cup) down the bathroom sink. In a fit of boozy negligence, Wally decides to fill the cup back up with his own, ahem, specimens.

Flash forward seven years later. Kassie, now back in NYC after leaving for a job, meets up with Wally and introduces him to her child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). A series of uncanny resemblances leads Wally to remember that fateful night (he was near a “blackout” stage when it happened), and then hilarity is supposed to ensue.

As with so many other romantic comedies, The Switch has its shortcomings. There are some ridiculous plot developments (an insemination party, really?), occasional cookie-cutter dialogue and the usual issues with predictability, but this movie rises above most in its genre due to one person: Jason Bateman. Seriously, his performance as the lonely, subdued Wally is entirely what makes this film watchable. This is a man who has been in love with his best friend for so many years, yet has never been able to take those feelings to the next level. I usually could care less about these types of movies, but I couldn’t help but root for the guy to follow his dream, even considering the bizarre circumstances that got him into this situation. This is a testament to Bateman’s performance (certainly not the script).

Other than Bateman (and the kid, who is actually pretty funny), the general cast is mediocre at best. Aniston sleepwalks through her performance, not really adding anything new to her repertoire. Patrick Wilson is solid, albeit unspectacular, as Kassie’s other love interest. Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis both have small roles, and neither one seemed thrilled to be doing their parts.

Without Jason Bateman, The Switch would have likely fallen into the same rut that so many other romantic comedies belong to. The movie has its funny moments and it isn’t boring — that’s about all you can ask for from something like this. If your girlfriend is begging to watch something in the genre, opt for The Switch instead of The Backup Plan. You will be glad you did.