Jen Garner Couldn't Handle Being A Teenager Today, Either
Scary Mommy caught up with Garner, director McG, and Emma Myers about their new Netflix movie Family Switch.
You’ve already watched Elf three times since Thanksgiving, and your kids become mutinous at the mere mention of cueing up your childhood favorite, A Christmas Story. Still, December’s finally here, and you’re ready to curl up on the couch and watch a festive movie with your family. Say less: A new holiday classic just dropped that combines the chaos of Christmas with… body switching.
In Netflix’s Family Switch, Jess and Bill Walker (Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms, respectively) are trying to pull off the ol’ parenting struggle of keeping their kids close to them as they grow older and more independent. And what better time for togetherness than the holidays? The only hitch: A chance encounter with a quirky astrological reader results in a full body switch for the whole fam, right down to their dog.
It’s lighthearted and hilarious, but it also still packs enough sentimental value for you to feel like it might actually bring your household closer together.
Just ahead of the film dropping on Netflix this week, Scary Mommy caught up with stars Garner and Wednesday standout Emma Myers, along with director McG, to get a few fun behind-the-scenes details.
Scary Mommy: What makes Family Switch stand out from other body-switch movies?
McG: I think what makes Family Switch stand out is it's a six-way switch. I've never seen that before. What we did to try to add a little topspin to that was do a six-way: mom, daughter, father, son, baby, dog.
SM: The dog was such a great element! Did it pose some unique challenges?
McG: Spontaneous defecation is an interesting challenge on a film set, but we dealt with it — both dog and baby — and the beat went on. I have a lot of experience with that since I have a 1-year-old now, so I was the designated diaper changer on the set for both the dog and the baby. It brought me closer to the actors. (laughs)
SM: Everyone has a special talent in this movie. If someone were to swap places with you, what would they need to really nail to be convincing?
Jennifer Garner: Emma can do a lot of things, so I don't even know what it would be. She's a gymnast, she can ice skate… she can dance, and she knows all the K-pop dances.
Emma Myers: I think maybe I'm a tea person, so knowledge of tea.
JG: Yeah, deep, deep knowledge of tea ... If you think you know tea, go deeper.
SM: I can respect that. What about you, Jen? Can I call you Jen?
JG: Yeah, of course, call me Jen. Gosh, for me, they would just have to be a little bit-
EM: You're a good baker.
JG: OK, I'm a good baker, but you have to burn about 30% of what you bake, or else you're not me.
SM: Oh, I could definitely nail the burning part. Jen, this isn't your first body switch; 13 Going on 30 gets a little wink. How do you think Jenna Rink would've handled being Jess Walker?
JG: Oh my gosh, I love thinking of that. Jenna Rink is one of my favorite people. I think she would've been like, "Dammit, who have I ended up inside of? Now this girl's a mess." Yeah, Jenna would've just kind of started to figure it out. What else can you do? But yes, changing bodies is always just … very fraught. It's definitely a tricky day if you wake up and you're in someone else's body or even your own body at a different age.
SM: There’s also a lot of physical comedy in this kind of movie. How hard was it to tap into your apparent secret belching talent?
JG: Just as I was doing it, I was aware on some level that I was just taking a black crayon over my own image, but that kind of made me happy. I don't mind. I mean, it was the tooting that really did it for me. That scene is kind of based on me, and that's not something that one would do. One is a lady and one doesn't need to be spreading bodily anything. But sometimes, to make kids laugh, you'll do anything.
SM: It was very, very funny. There's a hilarious cooking scene that is kind of a giant fail, too. Have you ever had a memorable holiday kitchen fail?
JG: Yes, definitely. I have set the turkey on fire. I've set the dishcloth and napkins on fire because I was warming something in the oven and forgot that I had left those in there. I've definitely had a pie come out completely charred and black. I've served a lot of turkey that, when you cut into it, was not cooked all the way through — I had to carve it off and just cook it on the stove.
EM: I have a lot of food allergies, and substituting things doesn't really work. So it's just a pile of mush half the time.
SM: The movie has a pretty cool Christmas angel in the iconic Rita Moreno. If you were to choose anyone to be your holiday fairy godmother, who would you choose?
JG: I think I’d stick with Rita. She’s truly a legend. In talking to her about her career, you cannot even believe everything she's accomplished. Everything that she has seen and done, the people that she's worked with, the barriers that she broke. And she's so cool and such an awesome grandma at the same time.
EM: I agree.
McG: I have that person in real life in Drew Barrymore … I'm very lucky in that regard. She's always been my sort of a fairy godmother. She started me in this business, and she's one of a kind. So yeah, happy to have Drew as my evergreen fairy godmother in perpetuity, sprinkling her magic Drew dust on me along the way.
SM: You can’t go wrong with Rita and Drew! Jen, you've got a tween and two teens; what do you think would be the pros and cons of switching places with one of them?
JG: I couldn't handle their lives. I know that for a fact! They work so hard, and just being at their school to serve lunch or work in the library or whatever it is that I'm doing for my older ones who are in high school, I cannot believe the energy it must just take socially to get through your day. Much less everything that they have to compute and the output of their daily work. I'm amazed by kids.
SM: McG, as the dad of a 1-year-old, did this kind of make you jump forward emotionally and think about what it's going to be like when you have a teenager?
McG: Yes, but at the same time, I feel emotionally frozen in my teenage years. So I tried to channel that when I was talking to Emma and Brady, then tried to jump back into adulthood and talk to Jen and Ed. So there was some balance somewhere in the middle there.
SM: What do you hope people take away when they watch Family Switch?
McG: The thing I've been talking about is look first to understand, then be understood. I think that would solve a lot of problems in the world and help in all of our relationships. It's basically what it is to have empathy for your mom, for your daughter, for your father, for your son, for your dog, for your baby caretaker, if you will. It's just always good to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes, be sensitive, and do some listening along the way.
SM: Everyone in the movie has a sort of Christmas wish they hope gets fulfilled. What is yours this year?
JG: I think if you were to lift up one giant universal Christmas wish, it would be for peace on earth … You can't even pretend to have anything else. That's where we are.
EM: Amen to that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.