The Ex

2007, Movie, PG-13, 90 mins


Bringing together a cast of experienced comic actors and a string of funny gags does not necessarily a good movie make. To call this film (formerly known as FAST TRACK) uneven would be generous: It has entertaining — even laugh-out-loud — moments, but it's severely undermined by the ridiculous plot, a swamp of bland scenes, gaping holes in the story, and disjointed pacing.

Tom Reilly (Zach Braff) is about to be a dad, which makes getting fired from his line-cook job for fighting with the boss (Paul Rudd) on the day he was supposed to be promoted a particularly bad move. Tom's lawyer wife, Sophia (Amanda Peet), is planning to quit her job to become a full-time mom. Since Manhattan is way too pricey for them without her hefty salary, they move back to Sophia's Ohio hometown, where her father, Bob (Charles Grodin), gives Tom a job at his advertising agency. Company head Don Wollebin (Donal Logue) is a bit of an eccentric, whose policies include discouraging verbal apologies in favor of Post-its. Tom really isn't receptive to Don's mentality, but wants to impress his wife and father-in-law and get in good with his wheelchair-bound manager, Chip (Jason Bateman). Chip used to be on the cheerleading squad with Sophia, and they briefly dated, but Bob treats Chip like the son he never had. While Tom is struggling to fit in, Sophia is desperately trying to find ways to fill her days, including joining her new-agey high-school frenemy Abby's (Amy Adams) "mommy and me" group, and letting pint-sized next-door neighbor Wesley (Lucian Maisel) practically move in — at least he's company. Things start spinning out of control when Tom begins to suspect that Chip is out to rekindle his relationship with Sophia, and that Chip might not be paraplegic at all — beliefs that lead to a series of very, very unfortunate events.

Director Jesse Peretz landed a cast that's equal parts TV favorites, buzz-worthy celebrities and screen legends, but his style seems more suited to sketch comedy than sustained storytelling. Braff and Bateman have a good, darkly comic chemistry, but there aren't nearly enough moments like the brutally funny, MURDERBALL-style wheelchair basketball game to sustain the entire film. leave a comment --Angel Cohn

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