Date and Switch (2014)

date-and-switch-poster01It’s a bit interesting (to me) how every year I’m getting farther away from my high-school years yet movies that deal with that period of time aren’t as strange as I am expecting them to be. Sure, styling changed a lot, people wear different accessories, there are “weird” gadgets around and things like that but for some reason everything is still recognizable. Sometimes it seems like no time has passed at all. I have a totally different vibe from comics (graphic novels if you want) which changed a lot over the years but that’s something that cannot be compared with your usual low budget teen comedy. Comics can take their time and they usually do so they have more narrative options (and far less producer types standing behind the shoulders) which then leads to wide variety of styles, stories and “heroes”. Still, as far as I’m glad seeing familiar situations, characters, themes and plot (which basically mean that I’m not that old…) I’m weirded out by that a bit. As far as I can tell real-life teens are “complete strangers” to both me and my generation so the question I must ask is why their movie counterparts haven’t changed as well.

It’s far too easy to blame everything on Hollywood and its need to both change and remain the same (i.e. recognizable). One rarely has to see something real “avant-garde” within the boundaries of the genre. Date and Switch, whatever it is, is no avant-garde. That much I can tell you. While part of the “blame” surely lies within the producer’s hands, the other, larger part, lies within the hands of scriptwriter(s). People writing this stuff are usually guys in their thirties who have, just like myself, forgotten how high-school really looks like. So they write something that approximates that life, sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes failing big. If you look very carefully you can spot the difference. Odd remark here and there, weird reference that wasn’t “in” even twenty years ago, drama that isn’t drama (or stopped being so thirty years ago) and so on. Date and Switch walks a fine line between overdone garbage and really interesting stuff. The more I think the more I’m inclined to go with the latter.

bscap0000Hear me out. It’s nothing you didn’t see before. It’s high-school, it’s sex talk, partying, identity crisis and great deal of love life going cardinally wrong. Yet, Alan Yang (the script writer, direction is rather bland and functional) seems to be smart about it. There’s this dynamic duo (of super best friends) which is the core of the movie that comes with a twist. Instead of usual buddy-buddy fuck all that moves and has long hair and pair of tits attitude, one of the guys is gay and he doesn’t really care for things mentioned. Now, there were several ways to deal with this situation and our guy Yang did them both. One way is to be conventional and boring about it. You know, it consists of discovering other gay guys which are all celebrity gay types (just too fabulous to be true), being in your face about it and fabricating all sorts of drama (parents, friends, society, church group etc.) to fuel the plot and eventual resolution (happy one – comedy – or the sad one – big, existential, indie-type drama). Yang introduces a character which embodies just this type of movies. That’s the other part of the duo.

bscap0001The second way to deal with the initial “problem” is to be smart about it. To be “normal”. To have people converse like intelligent beings instead like troglodytes that just came under some mountain rock. Apart from Michael (non-gay guy from the duo) everybody else behaves in this manner. By doing this, Yang managed to achieve nice contrast which outlines the ridiculousness of the first-type concept. On the one hand we have your average teen-comedy, on the other hand we have real people doing real stuff, having real problems and being sane about them. Sometimes, though, this may appear like being too clever. Too “grown-up” for teenage characters. Still, it’s one of the more refreshing things that I’ve seen in this particular genre in the long time (which just might mean that I don’t watch it that much…).

Anyhow, I’ll be on the lookout for the Yang guy (apart from this movie he did some work for Parks and Recreations but that’s it). However unfocused he might have been here, there is some real talent peeking through the layers of industry bull-crap.

 

RATINGS

 

 

SCRIPT: 8

STORY: 5

DIRECTION: 5

MUSIC: 5

ACTING: 5

TOTAL: 56%

 

 

Directed by

Chris Nelson

Produced by

Written by

Alan Yang

Starring

Music by

Eric D. Johnson

Cinematography

David Robert Jones

Editing by

  • Tia Nolan
  • Akiko Iwakawa-Grieve

Studio

Laurence Mark Productions

 

 

 

 

Try before You Buy

 

 

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