McG’s “Family Switch” is a movie we’ve seen a thousand times before. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel and doesn’t really seek to, at that. It makes it abundantly clear in the big turn of events involving the body switch as the four central characters make blatant references to “Freaky Friday,” “13 Going on 30,” “17 Again,” and “Big.” It’s tough to really judge a movie like this because it’s an easy slam dunk. It’s an easy paycheck for Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, and current teen star Emma Meyers (off her debut on Netflix’s “Wednesday”) is allowed her own vehicle.
Jess and Bill Walker are doing their best to keep their family connected as their children CC and Wyatt as they grow older, more independent, and more distant. When a chance encounter with an astrological reader causes the family to wake up to a full body switch, on the morning of the most important day of each of their lives, can the Walkers unite to land a promotion, college interview, record deal and soccer tryout?
“Family Switch” is yet another body swap family comedy with goofy Christmas themes tacked on for the sake of tapping in to the whole holiday season demographic. Truth be told the biggest criticism for “Family Switch” is that the Christmas theme has little to nothing to do with the whole of the film and the ideas about family unity. The family finds common ground through means not really concerning Christmas, when all is said and done. All things said, “Family Switch” is exactly what you think it might end up being. Two parents that don’t understand their two kids are being told that they “just don’t understand” by two kids that don’t understand their parents.
There’s the awkward shifting of environments and workplaces, some wacky confrontations with mean bosses and school bullies, the grown ups learn to compromise with the kids, and they all live happily ever after. “Family Switch” is saved mainly by the solid central cast, as Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms are charming as struggling parents anxious to maintain their last tradition i.e. Christmas, as their kids begin to grow up and seek their own lives. Helms and Garner are just charming and Emma Meyer is adorable in her dual roles, adhering to the personality traits that made her so likable in “Wednesday.”
That said, there are a ton of baffling narrative choices including a long fart scene, a weird sub-plot involving a dog trainer babysitting the family dog and baby, and a back and forth between Helms and his son Wyatt’s school crush which begins to feel a bit awkward when he starts flirting with her in the middle of school. And I’m sorry but Helms and Garner are not millennials. Nevertheless, “Family Switch” is cheesy, paint by numbers, secular, holiday entertainment that you can put on in the background while doing chores. I liked it just enough to get me through the end credits—which oddly enough includes a long blooper reel.
Now Streaming Exclusively on Netflix.