Family Switch: Do The Walkers Truly Understand Each Other?

Family Switch - (L to R) Emma Myers as CC, Brady Noon as Wyatt, Jennifer Garner as Jess and Ed Helms as Bill in Family Switch. Cr. Colleen Hayes/Netflix © 2023.
Family Switch - (L to R) Emma Myers as CC, Brady Noon as Wyatt, Jennifer Garner as Jess and Ed Helms as Bill in Family Switch. Cr. Colleen Hayes/Netflix © 2023. /

Family Switch relies on the concept that this broken Walker family, consisting of parents Jess and Bill, teenagers CC and Wyatt, baby Miles, and dog Pickles, need to fix their broken relationships in order to return to their natural bodies after a body-swapping incident occurs following arguments stating that the parents should swap places with their kids so everyone could understand each other’s life.

Body-swapping stories can be a comical and interesting way to force people to understand someone else’s perspective. What could be a better way to comprehend someone else’s life than to walk a mile in their shoes? Except, while some elements of this work for the movie, others struggle to make their point relevant.

Jess and CC’s dynamic allows for their switch to work wonderfully. Jennifer Garner and Emma Myers certainly lean into the comical contrast of taking on both the adult and teenager perspectives. But they also brilliantly play off the emotional arcs their characters undergo as they try to make it through the day in each other’s bodies.

When they grow to understand each other better, such as Jess discovering CC’s struggles with wanting to break free from the nest, desiring a spot on the national soccer team which would take her away from home, and bringing up her grades in math, and CC learning that Jess had prioritized CC’s love for soccer over a promotion at work and experiencing Jess’ job firsthand, it allows them to grow closer.

Jess’ speculation and uncertainties about CC’s future in sports come from a place of caring about CC’s future and wanting to protect her. But, Jess also makes sure she can afford to send CC to soccer camp and makes sure to be present for every game.

Family Switch leans into the complexities that can arise between mothers and daughters, especially as growing up and discovering one’s own identity and desires can drive wedges between them. Yet, communication is always a key in trying to make sure to help heal.

Family Switch
Family Switch – Cr. Colleen Hayes/Netflix © 2023. /

But, while this works in their favor, this plot has almost no emotional significance on the relationship between Bill and Wyatt.

If Bill is meant to understand his teenage son’s bullying, there is only one scene that portrays that dynamic. But Bill talks back to the bully so quickly there is no way he can grasp what his son truly goes through at school.

Meanwhile, Bill’s emotional desire toward a career in music is such a surface plot line that Wyatt does not have a real chance to understand his father’s life outside of one conversation about Bill’s removal from Maroon 5. Even Bill’s big stage performance moment becomes more about Wyatt battling stage fright than it is about Bill.

While in Wyatt’s body, Bill plays himself off as being social, something Family Switch makes clear Wyatt is definitely not toward his classmates. Even though Wyatt is given some understanding of his father, even if it is the smallest amount, Bill is not really given much to understand about Wyatt other than that he does not understand anything that Wyatt is interested in, and is encouraging of Wyatt living in the moment rather than rushing to college.

While Wyatt learning to live in the moment may not be a bad arc for the character, it still does not say much about what Bill grew to learn about Wyatt, even when Wyatt initially has a panic attack at the thought of going on stage in Bill’s place.

The swap between Miles and Pickles plays for a few laughs, but it mostly acts as such a background story that the movie could have been exactly the same had it not been included at all.

Family Switch’s finale wants the audience to believe that the Walker family has healed and have a better comprehension of each other’s lives and wants. To some degree, it works, especially in favor of Jess and CC, whose dynamic really becomes the emotional anchor of the movie.

Family itself certainly comes across as an integral plot point. But unfortunately, there are too many things going on for too many characters and it is difficult to believe that this experience really would have helped this family in the long run in any way other than having a bizarre shared experience.

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