Aniston Fooled by Sperm Switch; Army’s Tillman Cover-Up: Film

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston star in "The Switch." Aniston plays Kassie, a lovelorn New York TV producer whose biological time clock is about to strike midnight. Source: Disney via Bloomberg

Bill O’Reilly recently blasted Jennifer Aniston for saying that women don’t need men in their lives to have children -- a comment she made while promoting her new film about an unmarried 40-year-old who gets pregnant via a sperm donor.

Ignore the Fox News blowhard. “The Switch” is actually a sweet-natured romantic comedy that’s more interested in eliciting laughs than making polemical points. I highly doubt it will destroy family values, though it might make artificial baby-makers more careful about product labeling.

Aniston plays Kassie, a lovelorn New York TV producer whose biological time clock is about to strike midnight. After selecting a donor -- a hunky married guy named Roland (Patrick Wilson) -- she decides to hold an “insemination party” where she’ll be impregnated with a device that looks like a turkey baster.

The plan goes astray when Kassie’s best friend, stock analyst Wally (Jason Bateman), gets drunk and accidentally knocks over the cup containing Roland’s specimen in the bathroom. Wally panics and, with the aid of a magazine cover featuring Diane Sawyer, pulls a switcheroo that leads to confusion and complications.

Neurotic Son

The movie picks up seven years later when, after moving to her native Minnesota, Kassie returns to New York with her neurotic son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson), who bears a striking physical and psychological resemblance to Wally.

As Wally bonds with the kid, it becomes obvious there’s more than a friendly connection. Much of the humor stems from their eerie similarities -- everything from hypochondria to the way they cover their ears to block out loud noises.

Meanwhile, Kassie (who inexplicably remains clueless about the fatherhood issue) is dating the now-divorced Roland, and they appear to be headed to the altar until Wally finally decides to tell the truth about his semen switch.

Aniston and Bateman have a casual chemistry that neatly reflects the relationship between their characters. Robinson is precociously adorable in his film debut, while Jeff Goldblum (as Wally’s boss) and Juliette Lewis (as Kassie’s friend) have a few amusing moments.

Written by Allan Loeb (“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” screenplay) and co-directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (“Blades of Glory”), “The Switch” is an amiable, occasionally mushy movie that’s a cut above most romantic comedies these days. Even Bill O’Reilly might like it.

“The Switch,” from Miramax Films, is playing across the U.S. Rating: ***

‘The Tillman Story’

The military tried to turn Pat Tillman into a patriotic martyr, an NFL player who turned down a multimillion-dollar contract to enlist in the Army after 9/11 and ended up dying for his country in Afghanistan.

The truth wasn’t so simple.

“The Tillman Story” is a devastating documentary that chronicles all the lies and cover-ups that his family has courageously fought to expose since he was killed by friendly fire in 2004.

The Army initially claimed that Tillman was shot in an enemy ambush near the Pakistan border, and awarded him the Silver Star for valor. Military officials quickly became aware that he was probably killed by his own troops, but they continued to lie about the incident and use him as a symbol of American sacrifice in the war on terror.

Burned Uniform

The Tillman clan -- his parents, his two brothers and his wife -- wasn’t told the truth until weeks after the memorial service. And it was only through their persistence that details of the deception finally were revealed, including the military burning Tillman’s uniform to destroy evidence and ordering soldiers to lie to the family at his funeral.

The film, directed by Amir Bar-Lev (“My Kid Could Paint That”), graphically shows how public images are often misleading.

First of all, Tillman wasn’t the blindly obedient, gung-ho warrior that the Army tried to portray: He was a thoughtful well-read honors student who, while serving in Iraq, told a fellow soldier he thought the U.S. invasion was illegal. Second, it demonstrates how easy it is for the military (or any other powerful organization) to manipulate information for its own purposes.

This cautionary tale is a better tribute to Pat Tillman than any military medal.

“The Tillman Story,” from the Weinstein Co., is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: ***1/2

‘Lottery Ticket’

What happens when a kid from the ghetto wins $370 million in a lottery?

Director Erik White offers a predictable answer in “Lottery Ticket” a stereotypical comedy that’s a poor excuse for a movie about wealth.

While waiting to collect on his winning ticket (the lottery office is closed for the July Fourth weekend), teenager Kevin (rapper Bow Wow) is besieged by friends, neighbors and foes who want a piece of the action. They include a bully ex-con (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and a flamboyant preacher (Mike Epps) who envisions a palatial new church and home.

Aided by his best friend (Brandon T. Jackson), Jesus-loving grandma (Loretta Devine) and a reclusive former boxer (Ice Cube), Kevin tries to ward off the gold diggers even as he goes on his own spending spree, renting a yellow limo and cleaning out the Foot Locker where he works.

They’re all garden-variety ghetto types who act and talk like sitcom characters. This is not a winning “Lottery Ticket.”

“Lottery Ticket,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: *1/2

What the Stars Mean:
****          Excellent
***           Good
**            Average
*             Poor
(No stars)    Worthless

(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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