Who are the mystery 'people' behind Jennifer Aniston's 'The Switch'?
I'd like to think that most moviegoers have learned to be justifiably suspicious when movie marketers try to sell a new picture based on the come-on "from the producer or director of" some earlier movie that they might have liked. More often than not, the new movie being sold isn't nearly as good as the original movie being referenced, which is why the marketers are trying to ride the good vibes of the original movie in the first place.
So my suspicions were on high alert when I discovered a new billboard in my neighborhood selling "The Switch," a Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman romantic comedy arriving in theaters on Aug. 20. It's one of the orphaned films left in the lurch when Disney unceremoniously shuttered its Miramax subsidiary, so hopes are not high for any real commercial success, especially since late August is traditionally a dumping ground for movies without enough sizzle to open earlier in the summer.
So how is Disney trying to grab our interest? The studio's marketing wizards are plugging "The Switch" as being the movie "From the people who brought you 'Juno' and 'Little Miss Sunshine.' " But who are these "people"? The film's directors, Josh Gordon and Will Speck, had nothing to do with either of those films. Nor did the film's screenwriter, Allan Loeb. The film's producers, Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, were producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" but had no involvement at all with "Juno."
It turns out that those "people" are the people at Mandate Pictures, the production company that was involved with both "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine," as well as such films as "Whip It," "Drag Me to Hell" and the "Harold and Kumar" series. I'm sure all the folks at Mandate are really nice people, but it feels like a big stretch to use such a tenuous connection to lure us into the theater to see a film whose writers and filmmakers had nothing to do with "Juno" or "Little Miss Sunshine." But I guess that, if you're a movie marketer in desperate straits, when you have a lemon, you try to make lemonade.
Photo: Jennifer Aniston at the launch of her new fragrance, Lolavie, at Harrods in London last month. Credit: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images