Family Switch Movie Review

The holiday body-switching comedy genre is a bit worn down at this point. Movies like Freaky Friday, 13 Going on 30, and others have all essentially set the template for this type of film. But Family Switch, starring Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, adds some fresh twists. The film is streaming now on Netflix.

The premise

The most ideal family movie over the holidays is one that everyone can love. That probably doesn’t exist, but Netflix’s Family Switch is one of the least objectionable contenders. This premise-heavy comedy stars Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms as parents who trade bodies with their children to learn how it feels to be in the other’s shoes.

Family Switch is a riff on body-switching classics like Freaky Friday and Garner 13 Going on 30. The characters are likable enough, but they’re trapped in a predictable script filled with rote laughs and dead ends.

Directed by McG, who made the sugar-rush action movies of the 2000s before turning to churning out Netflix originals, Family Switch is a mediocre affair that never reaches its potential. The movie doesn’t have any genuinely funny moments, but it has a few high points, including an ebullient line dance at a senior party and a rockin’ rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” in the band.

There are bits and pieces of amusement in Family Switch, but it’s best to go with a different holiday film when you’re looking for family entertainment. It’s worth checking out if you want to take a loo break during your viewing, but don’t expect to find much else.

The cast

Family Switch stars a wide variety of well-known actors. Jennifer Garner, whose performance is the heart of the solarmovie film, plays matriarch Jess Walker, who struggles to balance her home life and her thriving career. She is a Type A personality who strictly follows schedules and protocols. Ed Helms, known for his roles in the Hangover films and The Office, plays Bill, Jess’s whacky husband. Emma Myers plays CC, their soccer star daughter. They all swap bodies with the help of a mysterious alien woman played by Rita Moreno.

As you might expect, the body-swapping shenanigans generate plenty of laughs. There are also some serious emotional moments, such as when CC discovers that her mother has a thwarted athletic career in her past. But overall, Family Switch is a lighthearted comedy that doesn’t attempt to dig deeply into the family’s issues.

Family Switch is a fun holiday movie that will be enjoyed by all ages. It has a talented cast and some good laughs. The only problem is that it doesn’t deliver the same level of depth and complexity as other movies in the genre, including its predecessors, Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30. It’s a movie that could use more laughs and a little less sentimentality. Still, it’s worth a watch. It’s a great way to spend an evening with the family.

The writing

Family Switch is the latest entry in a sub-genre that includes such comedic fare as Freaky Friday and 13 Going On 30. But while those films managed to add a level of personality and edge to the formula, that’s missing from this Netflix original.

Despite an impressive cast led by Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, Family Switch is a rote comedy that fails to capitalize on its high-stakes premise. Its attempt to add a supernatural twist to the tired body-switching trope fails to inject any energy into the film’s storytelling, and its attempts at physical humor land with all the subtlety of a toddler stumbling through their first steps.

The film’s characters adhere to stereotypes, and their dialogue is delivered with a wide-eyed snark that makes them feel less real than cardboard cutouts. This refusal to challenge any racial or sexist stereotypes, as well as the insistent sweetness of the story’s conclusion, make it difficult to connect with this rom-com.

The film’s most enjoyable moments involve the cast in fish-out-of-water generational gags that allow the actors to demonstrate their comic talent. In particular, the performances by Emma Myers (Wednesday) and Brady Noon (Good Boys) are hilarious. But these scenes are few and far between, and the movie’s overall tone is stale and unoriginal. It’s hard to feel for characters that are so flat and sweet they might as well be gingerbread people, resolving problems that never seemed to exist in the first place.

The direction

The story isn’t particularly new, but the sprightly direction from McG and an appealing cast clearly having fun with it keep it entertaining. Despite the fact that this is a Dad Joke of a movie, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and instead goes all-in for its gimmicky charm. The film is a whirlwind of body-switching chaos with adults in the bodies of their children and vice versa, as well as hilarious swapping of family pets.

Inspired by the 2010 book Bedtime for Mommy, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (who also provided the source material for Garner’s last Netflix family comedy, Yes Day), this adaptation ups the ante on the premise by switching all members of the Walker household and even their dog and baby! The resulting chaos is funny and heartwarming, but largely formulaic.

The characters fail to establish much in the way of unique personalities, and as a result they feel stereotypical even before the switch occurs. The attempts at humor, including puddles of dog urine and Ed Helms’ committed physical comedy, come across as rote and unoriginal. Ultimately, Family Switch fails to rise above the tropes of other more successful family-friendly body-switching movies like Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30. This latest effort from McG, who has spent the past decade churning out Netflix movies, lacks the spark that made his Charlie’s Angels and Babysitter films so enjoyable.

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