In a holiday-themed twist on “Freaky Friday,” Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms star as out-of-touch parents who suddenly find themselves occupying the bodies of their teenage children (Emma Myers and Brady Noon), and vice versa, in the Christmas comedy “Family Switch.”
Jess and Bill Walker bring the whole over-scheduled family — their daughter, CC, is in the running for the U.S. national soccer team, and Wyatt, their older son, is a science prodigy who’s interviewing for Yale — to the Griffith Observatory to witness a rare planetary alignment.
A chance encounter with a fortune teller (Rita Moreno, hamming it up) during the celestial event combines with a cosmic energy conversion so powerful that it zaps the Walkers into a triple body swap: Jess with CC, Bill with Wyatt, and their toddler, Miles, with Pickles, the French bulldog. They break the observatory telescope in the process, and fixing it, which will take a week, is the only way to reverse the spell.
On top of CC’s soccer tryouts and Wyatt’s college interview, Jess is prepping for a major presentation on the job at an architecture firm, and Bill is set to perform with his cover band (Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson and Brian Bell cameo as his bandmates) at the school holiday concert. Predictable antics ensue as the Walkers try and fail to excel in each other’s roles, and they soon realize that the telescope isn’t all that needs fixing.
Loosely based on the picture book “Bedtime for Mommy” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, “Family Switch” carries a surprisingly raunchy streak given its source material. But seeing that it’s directed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “The Babysitter”), the gross-out humor shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The real nail in the coffin is the film’s messaging about the power of family, which is about as tacked-on and stilted as they come — hardly a shock in light of the rest of the Netflix holiday movie lineup.
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. Watch on Netflix.