Jeffrey Eugenides recently emailed with the New Yorker‘s book blog and was asked about an upcoming Jennifer Aniston movie based on one of his short stores. He doesn’t sound very excited about it.
Eugenides has a story in this week’s issue, which was why he was interviewed. His 1996 story “Baster” is the basis for the new film, an artificial insemination comedy titled The Switch co-starring Jason Bateman. Eugenides explained that he sees the story and the film as fairly separate enterprises.
The fact that the movie has a different title than the story might give you some idea of how close a correspondence exists between the two. The plot of my story takes up the first twenty or thirty minutes of the film. From there, the screenwriter developed an entirely different outcome. “Baster” is merely the premise of the film. But even that’s not quite true. My story is about an unattractive man who’s in love with a beautiful woman. It deals, comedically, with the Darwinist question: is it better to be good-looking or clever? Now, Jason Bateman isn’t unattractive. The casting went in the other direction, as they say out in Hollywood, and the movie followed it. You might say that “Baster” is to “The Switch” what cello is to cellophane.
Not exactly The Virgin Suicides. Ultimately he concludes that he’s “not sure” if the differences bother him.
If it matters, Aniston’s casting sounds spot-on. In the story, her character is an assistant producer of the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” and a few of her lines sound like they were written for the actress.
In a warm, thorougly grateful voice, she said, “You get it, Wally. You totally get it.” “God! Sometimes I wish I was Benazir Bhutto or somebody.” After a moment, in a reedy, nervous voice, she said, “I was really screwed up back then. I don’t think I could have stayed with anybody.” “I just figured, Fuck it,” she said. “I’m forty. I’m an adult. I can do this.”
In theaters August 2010.