This is the kind of film that you could stumble on and sit through without much strain on brain or emotions. The Walker family — mum Jess (Jennifer Garner) and dad Bill (Ed Helms) — are all set for the family Christmas video while the children, 16-year-old budding soccer star CC (Emma Myers), 14-year-old nerd extraordinaire Wyatt (Brady Noon), two-year-old Miles (Lincoln and Theodore Sykes), and dog, Pickles, look on in varying degrees of shock and awe.
Jess is a super mom and career woman on the brink of making partner at her architectural firm if an important presentation goes through. Bill is the music teacher at the school CC and Wyatt go to. He also plays in a band and there is a chance of a record deal at the school dance where an agent is supposed to be coming. CC has a crucial match with a national scout watching, while Wyatt has an interview with Yale.
Jess and Bill feel their children are moving away and wonder what they did wrong as parents. They also have the feeling of life passing them by, having missed opportunities— Bill not being part of a band that went on to become super successful, Jess not going to the Olympics because of an injury. CC feels stifled under the weight of her mother’s expectations while Wyatt is chronically shy and cannot get the courage to speak to his crush and neighbor Ariana (Vanessa Carrasco). Bully Hunter Drew (Cyrus Arnold) does not make school any easier for Wyatt.
Family Switch (English)
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Ed Helms, Emma Myers, Brady Noon, Rita Moreno
Run-time: 105 minutes
Storyline: In the two days leading to Christmas, a family of five and dog find themselves in each other’s bodies
The fractious family head to Los Angeles’ Griffith Park Planetarium to observe a celestial event of great interest to Wyatt and none else, except perhaps Jess who has worn a Christmas-themed sweater for the holiday picture. A mysterious woman, Angelica (Rita Moreno), sees the squabbling family and ensures their wish of seeing how the other lives comes true.
On the all-important day, Jess wakes up in CC’s body, Wyatt in Bill’s, Miles in Pickles, and vice-versa. The rest of the movie involves the family seeing how difficult the others’ lives are, except perhaps for Miles and Pickles who have a jolly time of it, while they try to set right the spell. Rolf (Matthias Schweighöfer), the neighbour who agrees to baby sit Miles and Pickles, though befuddled, soldiers along manfully.
Garner is in a familiar space having played a 13-year-old who wakes up as a grown-up woman in 2004’s 13 Going on 30. Family Switch, based on Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s children’s book Bedtime for Mommy, with a strong hint of the genuinely warm-hearted Freaky Friday (2003), where Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan swap bodies, is not particularly funny. There is an air of desperation to the proceedings as well as one of low-level creepiness.
The cast is easy on the eye if slightly screechy, however at 105 minutes with the outtakes that are so 1990s, Family Switch does not greatly overstay its welcome.
Family Switch is currently streaming on Netflix