MRR Review: "Date and Switch"

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Rating: R

Length: 91 minutes

Release Date: February 14, 2014

Directed by: Chris Nelson

Genre: Comedy


"Date and Switch" is a bromance comedy about high school seniors and best friends Matty (Hunter Cope) and Michael (Daniel Braun) who make a pact to lose their virginity before senior prom. Their mission takes an unexpected detour when Matty admits to being gay, causing Michael to question his beliefs and learn how to help Matty as he struggles to cope with being an openly gay teenager.

Director Chris Nelson and writer Alan Yang deliver a funny and enjoyable coming-of-age entry into the realm of high school films with "Date and Switch." Rather than the film focusing too much on Matty's struggles to find himself as a gay teenager, Yang and Nelson chose to display the reactions to his revelation from friends and family. While Michael wrestles with the idea that his best friend is gay, he finds humor in the situation and helps Matty work through a difficult transition in his life. Michael stands out as a supportive, if often selfish, friend to Matty. He does research on gay stereotypes and lifestyle to better understand what his friend is going through. To prove to Matty that sexual orientation does not change their friendship, Michael even checks out gay porn and accompanies Matty to a gay club to help keep their mission to "score" afloat. Matty meets his new lover, Greg, after a car accident, showing audiences that love can be found in strange places. Matty's ex-girlfriend Em (Dakota Johnson) takes the news very well. She attempts to help the friends overcome the changes in their relationship. Em serves as a sort of conscious for the rest of the characters. She lets everyone know what is and is not acceptable behavior. 

Unfortunately Matty's parents (Gary Cole and Megan Mullally) have trouble understanding that their son is gay. A few laughable one-liners work their way into the script as Matty's parents refuse to accept their son's sexual orientation, relieving some of the tension of an otherwise awkward and painful situation. Michael's father Terry (Nick Offerman) is a little more understanding. He helps his son to stop panicking and learn how to be the supportive friend that Michael ultimately is for Matty. One of the film's more memorable scenes occurs when Terry walks in on Michael researching gay porn. Terry rationalizes his son's actions and offers advice, making for a funny and affectionately awkward sequence. 

The film touches on the sexual awkwardness of high school and the difficulties that high school seniors face as they try to fully discover who they are as people outside of their friends and parents. "Date and Switch" shows that high school is not necessarily the best years in life but a time when teenagers learn who their best friends are for life. It is a refreshing comedy that demonstrates the lengths that friends will go for each other. The first part of the film focuses largely on Matty's revelation that he is gay and Michael's subsequent gay panic. Michael's panic eclipses when he finds out that a hot female classmate Ava (Sarah Hyland) had sex with his gay best friend. After Michael starts to accept Matty's sexual orientation, the rest of the film shows that a true friendship can be tested but never broken as Michael works to prove his loyalty to Matty.

"Date and Switch" is an enjoyable film to watch that will make moviegoers laugh. It also runs the risk of being forgotten by audiences as soon as they exit the theater. The film expertly switches from the heavy emotional undertones of the situation with hilarious one-liners and biting wit. This method works to keep the film light while also exploring the issues of sex and sexual orientation in high school. Nelson uses the awkwardness of Matty's coming out to his friends and family as a springboard to tell the story of Michael and Matty's friendship in a way that is both touching and not so overly emotional that it loses audiences. While "Date and Switch" may leave audiences with the warmness of a feel-good comedy, there is little about the story and characters that causes a need to see the movie again. Despite having a great cast and a witty screenplay, the film fails to deliver the depth of characters that this story deserves, often choosing laughs over character development, leaving the audience with the impression of a quirky, funny film that lacks enough heart to earn repeated viewings. Overall the film is funny and sincere with characters that are entertaining, if not necessarily memorable.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5