Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My connections in the know tell me that this here movie, ‘The Ex’, was originally named ‘Fast Track’ when it was released in December in a limited Los Angeles engagement to test its worthiness.  Apparently the Weinstein brothers of the struggling Weinstein Company (so my connections tell me) chose to shelve this thing because it was so bad and decided to rework it a bit.  Apparently the only reworking they did was change the title, and then dump it to a wide release.  My boys out west must seriously be strapped for cash. 


Zach Braff and Amanda Peet are Tom and Sophia Reilly, a couple of downtown New Yorkers about to spit out a little bundle of joy.  Tom is a great guy, but he has a problem holding on to a job.  Not because he’s a slacker or anything, but because he tends to speak his mind and doesn’t take any guff.  Well, this attitude, one that’s not particularly encouraged in the corporate world, gets him fired from his latest gig which forces he and Sophia to pack off to somewhere in Ohio so that Tom can work for Sophia’s dad, sticking to their plan of Tom supporting the family and Sophia taking care of the newborn Oliver. 

As is often the case in movies and art made by New Yorkers, they tend to crap on anything that is NOT New York and ‘The Ex’ is no different as we are greeted by silly, narrow minded, backwoods Ohioites who aren’t nearly as smart or as clever as our transport New Yorkers.  So Tom now works for his father-in-law Bob (Charles Grodin) at the ad agency under the watchful eye of wheel chair bound Chip (Jason Bateman) who as it turns out, once got a piece Sophia back in high school (thus the whole EX thing).  Chip as it turns out is a bit pathological and is sabotaging every effort that Tom is making to succeed at his new job.  Tom isn't helping matters much

cracking the occasional cripple joke and frankly being an over all New Yorker, which really doesn’t go over well except in New York.  So the drama becomes whether or not Tom can save his marriage, which he is screwing up, his job, which he is screwing up as well, and find happiness and contentment somewhere in Ohio.


How bad can a movie be that has virtual comedic geniuses Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Jason Bateman and Josh Charles in it?  Not that bad at all, at the start at least.   Zach Braff has an easy, breezy comedic charm which lends itself well to these kinds of roles, and even though Rudd, Malco and Charles where just glorified cameos, they still raise the level of whatever scene they happen to be in, particularly Paul Rudd.  Jason Bateman was funny in that kiddie show he was in damn near thirty years ago, and he’s been funny ever since in anything not named ‘Teen Wolf 2’.  Tell Justine to ring me up me Jay, haven’t heard from her in a while.  It was actually kind of cool that the villain in the movie was a physically disabled psychotic manipulator, and though it did push the concept pretty far, I think they could have pushed it way further.


Then the whole thing just ran out of gas.  Actually, ‘ran out of gas’ would intimate that it slowed and then stopped when actually ‘The Ex’ came to a screeching comedic halt, so we’ll say it ‘Hit The Wall’.  The jokes, though still flying at a reasonable pace, just stopped being funny, Amanda Peet, who  we think is a fine actress both comedic and dramatic (i.e., ‘Griffin and Phoenix’) never seemed comfortable with her role, and definitely never seemed comfortable being pretend married to Zach Braff.  Even though movies of this type are always predictable, when ‘The Ex’ ceased being funny, the predictability of the script just became tiresome and boring.  It seems that the script writers just ran out of material and resorted to pratfalls and physical comedy to get the rest of their laughs, and it didn’t work too well.  Director Jesse Peretz apparently didn’t shoot enough stuff to give the editor enough material to squeeze out a few more laughs.


Disappointment is what I felt most after watching ‘The Ex’ as it had an outstanding cast after a very promising start.  Charles Grodin makes his return back to the screen after a 10-year absence my connects tell me, and like the movie, he was funnier earlier in it than later.  There was also a Mia Farrow sighting as well in yet another glorified cameo.  I’ve seen worse than ‘The Ex’, but I have also seen much better.

Real Time Web