Director: David Dobkin; Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Sudekis, Isla Fisher, Keira Knightley
Just when it seemed Hollywood couldn’t outdo itself with a premise devoid of any merit—save for its ability to be pitched to a movie exec with an anxiety disorder—comes this comedy from the creators of other comedies whose names and storylines you’ve forgotten even though you’re pretty sure you saw it in the theater or on Netflix or on a movie channel like HBO.
The Boob Switch, as the title suggests, is about two men whose wives switch boob sizes. It begins with an introduction to the lives of two couples who live in a generic suburb outside of an unnamed city that is probably Chicago. Dave (Reynolds) works in advertising and is married to the voluptuous Krissy (Fisher), a food critic. Steve (Sudekis) has a job in finance and is married to the lithe and flat-chested Carolyn (Knightley), a yoga instructor.
In the film’s pivotal scene, Dave and Steve meet for a drink at a bar. The evening starts as a regular night between two friends, catching up and complaining. As the two become drunker, the complaining extends to their love lives. Dave, who spends his days looking at glossy advertising photos of women, wishes his wife had a more svelte figure. Steve, on the other hand, feels that his wife Carolyn is becoming thinner and thinner and her breasts have virtually disappeared. It becomes evident that each man vies for the physical body—specifically breast size—of the other’s wife. At this moment, a toothless Irish bartender mutters under his breath, “Careful what you wish for,” before crushing up a bunch of four-leaf clovers and sprinkling lucky clover dust into their next round of drinks.
After the men go home, a lightning storm strikes. Whether this lightning is induced by the four-leaf clover dust or is just a perfect coincidence (and a necessary second component to the spell that is to ensue later) is unclear. We see the respective couples asleep in bed as the lightning cascades into their bedrooms, causing them to toss and turn in the presumed discomfort of the impending physical and psychological metamorphoses.
The next morning, as was promised by the movie poster, Carolyn the yoga instructor has double Ds, and Krissy, the once-voluptuous food critic, has double As. Here, the film takes pains to clarify certain rules of this new universe. Apparently no one can see this change in breast size except for the two husbands. We learn this when Krissy, who now looks flat chested, dresses herself and looks in a mirror completely unfazed. She meets a friend for lunch who compliments her on her curvy figure and the fact that she can really fill out a dress.
The inherent comedy in all this is heightened when Carolyn, the day after her transformation, goes bra shopping. She walks into a Victoria’s Secret with double Ds and asks where she can find a “training bra” because As are now too big for her. The salesperson unflinchingly walks her to the teenage section of the store, and we watch as Keira Knightley hilariously holds up a trainer bra to her double D boobs in a mirror.
Despite the film’s exhausting effort to clarify the rules of this universe, the viewer must still make a few leaps of faith—especially in terms of spatiality. How does Knightley fit the training bra over her double Ds? When Steve is excitedly massaging the breasts of his newly voluptuous wife, does she see his hand moving at an 8-inch distance from her chest?
Dave and Steve, of course, freak out the morning they wake up to their transformed wives. They remain calm until they get into their cars going to work and call each other. “My wife has boobs!” / “My wife has no boobs!” they simultaneously exclaim. In a state of confusion and madness, Dave slams his steering wheel, “Dude, what happened?” Steve, meanwhile, tries to see the bright side, “You know, maybe this isn’t a bad thing after all?” One has to wonder if Steve’s attitude is inspired by the fact that he’s getting the better end of the deal: his wife is rail thin with enormous boobs while Dave’s wife is stout with no boobs. Regardless, he convinces Dave, and the two happily enjoy this new transformation. A series of hilarious boob-themed antics ensue from approximately minute twenty-five to minute fifty-five of the film.
Ultimately, the men realize they need to undo the spell and return to the original breast sizes of their wives. Here, we discover that behind this inane comedy is actually a heartfelt message: love is blind. Or, maybe love is irrespective of breast size. Whatever it is, it’s a compelling message that fills you with the most minimal sense of fulfillment and prevents you from asking for your money back at the end of the film (or smashing the DVD box into a wall if watching from home).
The men orchestrate a “girls’ night” for their wives, so that they can meet alone in one of their homes, as it would be too easy to just meet somewhere else. They pace around a living room decorated in furniture from Pottery Barn, jotting various ideas on a paper easel with the heading “Boob Switch.” Just when it seems they’ve exhausted absolutely every idea, Steve realizes that they should just retrace their steps the night before the boob switch happened. Except instead of complaining about their wives’ breast sizes, they should praise their wives’ breast sizes.
Accordingly, the two men return to the bar and execute the plan. The toothless bartender knowingly smiles, as if having taught these two men a lesson, and crushes up a reverse four-leaf clover potion and puts it into their drinks. Thunder and lightning strike, and the men wake up the following morning to their wives in their original physical states.
The last five minutes of the film are dedicated to a period of “happily ever after” that seems to continually outdo itself in happily ever after-ness. The men, who wake in blissful peace next to their wives, decide to organize a “wife appreciation dinner.” It’s set up in one of their backyards, where the table is lit with candles and surrounded by paper lanterns. At dinner, each man confesses what he loves most about his wife, both physically and emotionally. The wives are touched by the display before deciding to crack a few crass and out-of-place one-liners to jolt us out of the seriousness of the conversation. The men officially declare this day as “Wife Appreciation Day,” given that such a day doesn’t exist—only Mother’s Day, which doesn’t count for couples without children. A fun song plays, as we zoom out of the Chicago suburbs and watch as this backyard becomes a tiny microcosm of a greater world with other families and marriages. As the credits roll, you get up from your chair and slowly begin the process of forgetting whether you ever saw this film.
Shirin Najafi is a writer living in Los Angeles. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics and worked in investment banking before deciding to quit and become a writer. She performs the voice of a cat in some videos (www.magicalstew.com) and is currently working on her first novel.