Family Switch (2023) — Movie Review
- Dec 4, 2023
In every family, there comes a time when the youngest child is ready to join in on "movie night," a tradition that took a special turn for our family during the pandemic. As our daughter's interests evolved from Australian mermaid shows to "The Baby-Sitters Club" and "Gilmore Girls," we introduced our children to the classic films of Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, which they adored. However, once normalcy began to return, our family's viewing preferences diverged. Our son developed a liking for football and related dramas, while our daughter preferred watching cake-themed shows on Netflix.
Netflix's holiday release, "Family Switch," directed by McG and starring the ever-charming Jennifer Garner (also a producer), directly addresses the challenge of finding something for everyone in today's diverse family viewing habits. The film, a festive take on the body-swap genre, presents the Walker family, each member embodying a different archetype: Sporty, Techy, Wistful, Work-Obsessed. The story explores the disconnected family dynamics post-lockdown and the potential of experiencing life in someone else’s shoes to reunite them.
Unlike "Freaky Friday" or "Big," which focus on dual body swaps, "Family Switch" ups the ante with multiple swaps within the Walker family. Jess (Garner) and her teenage daughter CC (Emma Myers), Bill (Ed Helms) and his son Wyatt (Brady Moon), and even the baby and family dog Pickles, all switch bodies during a rare planetary alignment. The film includes comedic elements, such as the dog walking on hind legs and bathroom humor, though some jokes, like the German dog trainer bit, fall flat. Contemporary references like "intimacy doulas" and Maroon 5 add a touch of modern humor.
Inspired by Amy Krause Rosenthal's children's book "Bedtime for Mommy," "Family Switch" is part of Netflix’s lineup of high-profile holiday movies. Set in Los Angeles, the film lacks the cozy holiday feel typical of the genre, despite its supernatural elements, including a fortune teller (Rita Moreno), and humorous explorations of newfound physical attributes.
The script, crafted by a team of writers, introduces a day full of pivotal events for each Walker family member coinciding with the body swap. CC has a crucial soccer game, Wyatt faces a Yale interview, the father has a rare opportunity to revive his rock-star dreams, and Jess has a career-defining presentation. These scenarios lead to humorous situations as characters struggle to navigate unfamiliar roles.
"Family Switch" might not be a masterpiece, but it's likely to be a popular choice for families during the holiday season. While it may warm some hearts, the film also serves as a reminder to appreciate individual interests. It might even inspire budding filmmakers to be more selective with plot devices, echoing Sam Altman's philosophy of focusing on depth rather than breadth in creative endeavors.
5 / 10
Netflix's holiday release, "Family Switch," addresses the challenge of finding something for everyone in today's diverse family viewing habits.