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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Family Switch' Review: Holiday Comedy Transforms & Disturbs Jennifer Garner, Ed Helms & More

The main cast riding on scooters on the pavement

What if movies weren't real? What would a movie slapped together by AI actually look and feel like? Someone has to ask the tough questions, as the new comedy film Family Switch dares to do, much to our society's devolution and collective suffering. Adapted from Amy Krouse Rosenthal's book 'Bedtime For Mommy', presumably also a fake invention, the story follows the Walker family: mom Jess (Jennifer Garner), dad Bill (Ed Helms), daughter CC (Emma Myers) and son Wyatt (Brady Noon), plus a newborn baby and dog.

Times are tough for this privileged, upper middle-class, vanilla-smelling outfit as we wait with bated breath if they can succeed in their individual challenges; Jess trying to secure a big promotion, Bill wishing to live his rockstar dream again, CC in her football showcase or Wyatt in his college interview for Yale. Oh, and all of this whilst the kids miraculously get body-swapped into their parents' bodies and vice versa.

We might as well begin with some honesty and say that Family Switch is easily a somewhat early contender for the worst film of the century before we delve into why that is the case. The AI mentioned above might at first seem like a timely reference considering the labour issues but it's not at all just a slight jab here. Problems arise right at the top as director McG is simply throwing things at the wall with zero sense of character, decent filmmaking or respect for the art of storytelling, as evidenced by terrible physical comedy, a more-is-more attitude and even down to colour grade, which drowns every image in atrocious yellow tones as if the family dog had taken a leak on the figurative film print. No wonder that McG continues to use a grade lower than an F in his artist name since Family Switch has no vision, no purpose and constantly tortures a viewer's intelligence.

You could make a solid argument that the actors are ''innocent'' when it comes to sins committed here because none of them have real characters, emotions or even goals to illustrate. The entire presentation is phoney because Walkers are a flawed idea of a family or humans in general. Their arcs are laughably generic with no true obstacles, covered in some of the worst dialogue imaginable, all of which is to make sure that you can change your baby's diapers, do the dishes and take a nap without missing a beat. It's all fake feelings inside fake houses on fake soundstages, feeding the algorithm before the corporations have hollowed out all of our souls for no insight on anything sincere or meaningful.

It is best to hope that screenwriters Victoria Strouse and Adam Sztykiel were paid just to adapt the book as it existed already, because the story and shifts within it truly defy the philosophy of cinema. There's nothing else to learn other than that privileged, successful people can only fail upwards, Christmas provides miracles for them and any humour that an emotional vampire in the form of a trillion-dollar company can suck out is downright cringeworthy, obnoxious and insulting to humans, dogs and demon babies.

Speaking of demon babies, there's nothing redeemable about the movie's filmmaking either, which is not a surprise considering the leadership and lacking ambition. Family Switch features mind-numbingly dumb visual effects (supervised by Dan Akers), including when the baby and dog switch bodies, further underlining deficient comedy provided—something which neither the main quartet nor Matthias Schweighöfer (as Rolf) can't do anything worthwhile with. Similarly incompetent elements affecting said comedy are DoP Marc Spicer's dull lighting that reveals the seams of soundstages, Brian Olds' overly restless editing and poor staging, such as in scenes featuring football, large crowds or conflicts between characters.

With little joy, laughs or wonder despite the holiday theme, this is undoubtedly a script and director's vision that you throw into a trash bin after the first two pages. If one were to champion filmmaking jails—which you shouldn't champion, to be clear, especially at times like these—Family Switch would precisely be a project that you'd start the conversation with. This is filth that you can't clean up, unlike the mess left by your dog.

Smileys: No

Frowneys: Characterisation, screenplay, story, directing, VFX

They're not actually saying ''soccer'', they're calling you a ''sucker'' for putting this on in the first place.


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