Critics Have Seen Jennifer Garner’s The Family Switch, And There's So Many 13 Going On 30 Comparisons

From left to right: A press image of Jennifer Garner and Emma Meyers standing at a bus door in Family Switch.
(Image credit: Cr. Colleen Hayes/Netflix © 2023.)

In the holiday spirit, Netflix has just dropped a heartwarming gift for its subscribers – Family Switch. This new festive comedy stars none other than Jennifer Garner, and it is making its way to the platform today, November 30. The former Alias star is not just in front of the camera as part of the talented Family Switch cast, but she is also behind it as a producer, bringing a unique spin on body swap movies. The new 2023 Netflix movie’s latest take on the premises sees an entire family swapping bodies during a rare planetary alignment. Critics have already given it a watch, and the buzz on social media, though somewhat mixed, has drawn comparisons to Garner's iconic role in 13 Going On 30, and I’m pretty stoked.

In this delightful comedy helmed by director McG, a family finds themselves in a hilarious predicament as they wake up discovering they've switched bodies. The mom, played by Garner, swaps places with her teenage daughter, portrayed by Wednesday cast member Emma Myers. Ed Helms takes on the role of the dad, who now inhabits the body of his teenage son, played by Brady Noon. Adding to the comedic chaos, even the infant boy and the family dog get in on the body-swapping action, adopting each other's characteristics for extra laughs. 

The Hollywood Handle writer Ricardo Aymar showered praise on the Family Switch, noting its surprising charm as an early Christmas gift, saying:

I’d be lying if I say I didn’t enjoy this movie because I really did. Family Switch was a surprising early Christmas gift. The movie is heartwarming, with some great emotional beats and a cast that work so well together. Emma Myers keeps being the queen she was born to be.

Film critic and staff writer for Loud and Clear Branyan Towe resonated with The Hollywood Handle, praising the Christmas flick despite acknowledging its flaws. Towe agreed that the undeniable chemistry between Garner and Emma Myers is a real highlight of the film, saying:

Garner and Myers have a dynamic in Family Switch that one could compare to Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in Freaky Friday (2003). Both seem to be having a joyful time but can bring that to a halt for the emotional beats of the narrative. The jokes that this pairing had because of their body swap were also more memorable. Yes, there are jokes with Jess and CC that are clearly aimed at kids for cheap laughs, but darn it, even they got me.

According to Samantha Bergeson of IndieWire, the 51-year-old actress taps into her iconic 13 Going on 30 charm in the delightful film, standing out as a sweet addition to Netflix's best movies. In her words:

The actress channels her iconic '13 Going on 30' charm for the sweet Netflix holiday movie 'Family Switch' which, despite its forgettable title, actually serves as a sweet addition to the Netflix queue.

Isaac Feldberg, a film writer, editor, and contributor to the Daily Beast, also highlighted the comparisons between Garner's latest body swap comedy and her classic 2004 romp. Despite the similarities between the two movies, Feldberg notes that the actress doesn't rely on the same "kill them with kindness" charm but still brings the laughs. Instead, as he puts it: 

Garner isn’t on quite the same kind of charm offensive that she was in 13 Going on 30; instead of killing with kindness, she earns big laughs by embracing teendom’s all-consuming exasperation and embarrassment, all the while emanating her trademark, stubborn glow of sincerity.

Angie Han from The Hollywood Reporter wasn't overly impressed with the film. Her write-up describes it as not being "good so much as it is completely and totally innocuous." To be honest, her take on the movie paints it more like a Holiday Yule Log than an engaging film, suggesting it's perfect as "background filler." She writes:

Paradoxically, this insistent niceness makes Family Switch less heartwarming than it seems like it should be. It’s simply hard to feel all that deeply for characters so flat and sweet they might as well be gingerbread people, resolving problems that barely seemed to exist in the first place. But it also makes the film completely and utterly safe as background filler. There’s nothing here that risks bringing up difficult or painful conversations, or steering toward an unhappy ending, or pressuring viewers to pick sides while you’re just trying to curl that last bit of ribbon or untangle that last string of lights.

Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, took an even harsher stance. His critique labels the movie as unoriginal and devoid of laughs. Ouch. Also referencing 13 Going on 30, LaSalle wrote: 

This movie’s dubious claim to originality is that it takes somebody else’s idea and doubles it. Like 'Big' and '13 Going on 30' (which also starred Garner), 'Family Switch' involves people experiencing a consciousness switch. In this case, a family wakes up one morning and finds that the father has traded bodies with his son, and the mother has traded bodies with her daughter.

As you can see, opinions range wildly regarding Garner’s latest holiday offering. While many have found something endearing about the movie, based on its current Rotten Tomatoes score, which is 17% as of this writing, it's probably safe to say that Family Switch won’t be joining the ranks of best Christmas movies anytime soon. 

Still, if you have a Netflix subscription, you can watch the festive family comedy and make up your mind -- I know I will. If Famliy Switch has even a fraction of the charm of 13 Going on 30, then it'll be worth a watch. 

Ryan LaBee

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing. An expert in all things horror, Ryan enjoys covering a wide variety of topics. He's also a lifelong comic book fan and an avid watcher of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.