3 Stars – Thought-provoking
Some in our culture are attempting to redefine marriage and family. This redefinition has been questioned not only by those who believe such relationships have been defined by the Creator, but also by artists who are exploring how such changes will impact real life. Joining such films as “The Back-up Plan”, Josh Gordon and Will Speck offer the latest view of what happens when a single woman decides to have a baby by artificial insemination because “the time is right for her” which makes having either a husband or even a father unnecessary. In this version, there is a twist since the pregnancy becomes the product of “The Switch”.
The woman whose desire for a child has reached critical mass is Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston). Kassie’s inability to find a man with whom she can share her life is due in part to her complex friendship with Wally Mars (Jason Bateman). Having decided years earlier to just be friends, their unusual connection makes all other relationships for either of them unsatisfying. So Kassie decides to find a sperm donor.
The event that causes the confusion is central to the plot so we won’t spoil it, but the affirmation of Kassie’s decision by her girlfriends is expressed in an “insemination party” in which everyone comes together to meet the donor, Roland (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Jessica (Kelli Barrett) who sell his sperm because of financial need. This surreal experience is an obvious attempt to find a culturally appropriate way to affirm the decision of a single woman to purchase sperm and raise a child alone. It does not work. Instead, the drug-smoking physician, the ambivalent depression of Kassie, the embarrassment of Roland, and the anguish of Wally all communicate the unhealthy nature of this decision.
Surprisingly, the story ends affirming both marriage and fatherhood in a way that resonates not only with the traditional roles based on generations of time-tested experience, but also demonstrates the joy possible in such relationships. Perhaps this is what the film is actually communicating, that the “solution” being explored is an attempt to replace traditional marriage and family with something that is not what it seems. The necessity of a father and a family is best communicated by the child, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), whose need for both he attempts to meet through collecting pictures of imaginary family members. Once again, wisdom is expressed through a child if the adults will take the time to listen to his needs.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. How do you believe it will impact the next generation of children and society as a whole if women choose to have children without having a husband or a father?
2. The fact that Kassie and Wally are friends seems to make their relationship incapable of becoming romantic. Do you believe romantic relationships can begin as friendships? Why or why not?
3. The genetic similarities of Sebastian and Wally are obvious. Why do you think Kassie did not see them? In real life, do you think she would have missed these? Why do you answer as you do?