The Switch at the IMDb
Bill Lumbergh off ‘Office Space’ stars in this 1993 true life drama that has nothing to do with the spunk swapping we enjoyed back in number 95.
‘The Switch’ in this case is an on/off switch for a life support machine that our paralysed hero insists on having installed. Bill plays Larry McAfee who in the opening scene suffers a catastrophic motorcycle accident that leaves him paralysed below the neck. We witness his treatment which is intercut with a tampon advert’s of sport and bonding as Larry retreats into his memories. We also get to witness him going over the bars of his bike in glorious slo-mo.
We cut to a year later and Larry is mobile in a straw controlled wheelchair but his insurance cash is running out. His hapless parents find him an evil hospital in Texas where they aren’t very nice and give him his bed baths at night. These scene are well done with Larry’s POV giving us an insight of his helpless situation.
After 4 years he’s been bounced around various hospitals with his smart mouth and quick temper meaning his welcome never lasts long. He manages to engage a lawyer and proposes his patented ‘switch’ idea that will allow him to kill himself without anyone risking charges for helping him. His plight also gets the attention of a talk radio host who must be great as he has Beverly D’angelo as an assistant and wife.
Larry manages to get court approval for his switch but the publicity the case garners encourages the DJ to have Larry on the show and get him a straw powered phone. This new outlet for his thoughts helps Larry regain his will to live as do some quality days out in the park and some nice cleavage rich shaving with Beverly.
Despite these steps forward Larry is still keen on flicking the switch and the DJ agrees, despite Larry moving to a new state where his judgement doesn’t apply. After a strange night time car park handover the switch is obtained and installed. Will Larry make the three puffs that will stop his oxygen or is it just control over his own life he needs?
It’s the second one, and soon in an assisted living facility Larry is making friends and learning some new software that may allow him to get back to work. The other residents resent Larry’s switch that they think it makes it too convenient for able bodied folk to see their disabled friends switch themselves off. But soon his spirit and refocused energy wins them over. Can Larry make a life for himself and will the switch ever be used?
This was a pretty much by the numbers ‘triumph over adversity’ bio-pic with lots of setbacks followed by life affirming achievement. It was enjoyable however with a great and recognisable cast. Gary Cole is excellent as the lead although sometimes he moves a bit more than is supposedly possible when he gets anxious. There is a lot of sentimentality and it is clearly packaged as a tear jerker for the Lifetime Network.
They did well to paint Larry as a bit of a dick but still likeable throughout. The uplifting musical cues every time a worthy speech was uttered did get a bit grating but give the guy a break, he’s had a tough time!
THE Tag Line - You Won’t Switch Off Either! 65%