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Review: The Ex

Zach Braff is just about the world’s most insufferable comedic actor, and The Ex does nothing to diminish that reputation.

The Ex
Photo: The Weinstein Company

Zach Braff is just about the world’s most insufferable comedic actor, and The Ex does nothing to diminish that reputation, providing another venue for the Scrubs star to indulge in his typical array of exaggerated, rubber-faced expressions accompanied by “Aren’t I cute?” eye twinkles. His unpleasantness is a perfect fit for Jesse Peretz’s film, a lazy, slipshod effort—akin to a fifth-generation Farrelly Brothers comedy—that believes making jokes about crippled people is the epitome of edginess, and then doesn’t even have the cajones to truly follow through on its inappropriateness. Unable to hold down a job, Tom (Braff) chooses to relocate from New York to Ohio to work as an ad executive for his father-in-law (Charles Grodin) once wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) gives birth to their first child. Problems arise, however, courtesy of paraplegic Chip (Jason Bateman), a star at the company who once slept with Sofia and proves determined to destroy Tom’s personal and professional life. What this evil sabotage amounts to is putting gay porn on Tom’s computer and screwing him over during client presentations, lame tricks which exemplify a safe script (by David Guion and Michael Handelman) that only comes to life during Chip’s attempt to seduce Sophia by showing her the love scene from Coming Home. The idea that people treat the handicapped with sympathetic kid gloves lest they themselves be seen as insensitive is presented, but unexplored, by the brainless The Ex, which is too busy indulging in faux-daring incidents like Tom throwing Chip down a flight of stairs (to prove that he can walk). Largely wasted are supporting players Amy Poehler, Donal Logue, Amy Adams, and Mia Farrow, while Peet is saddled with an unhappy stay-at-home-mom subplot that barely scratches the surface of parents’ conflicted emotions over newborns. As for the usually reliable Bateman and Grodin, who, in his return from acting retirement, flashes some of his unrivaled dry wit—well, let’s just say that something’s amiss when the film’s most memorable performance comes from a young boy whose chief talent is being able to swallow a hamburger in one bite.

Cast: Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow, Lucian Maisel, Donal Logue, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Amy Adams Director: Jesse Peretz Screenwriter: David Guion, Michael Handelman Distributor: The Weinstein Company Running Time: 89 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2007 Buy: Video

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