As a comic
actor, Zach Braff probably has built up enough good will that we will
forgive him for the occasional missteps like The Ex. Years on
TV as the eccentrically ironic doc of Scrubs have given him a "Get
Out of Crappy Film Free" card. He's also upped that stature in the
movies, where he offered the supremely assured Garden State and the
interesting-if-ultimately-a-slight-misfire The Last Kiss.
This script does seem to be
squandering Braff's eccentric comic skills. The story actually screams
out that it was probably written for Ben Stiller as the fantasy lead.
I could see Owen Wilson or Will Ferrell pulling it off, too. However,
if Braff wants to keep the hipster buzz he has going, he best not be
trolling in the pond of Stiller, Ferrell and Wilson cast-offs.
In fact, there is a whole
cast of fantastic actors who seem rather let down by their limp
material. Why, for example, would the completely brilliant comic mind
of Charles Grodin choose this as the vehicle to end his self-imposed exile
from the movies -- his first film role since 1994?
Whipped, Saving Silverman, A Lot Like Love, The Whole Ten
Yards, etc.) that you can't completely be surprised that she is doing it
again. But what about Jason Bateman, who has just rebuilt his standing
in Hollywood as the wonderful straight man of three seasons of Arrested
Development? Even though it was the third-billed role in a major
motion picture, is The Ex really in the best interest of his career?
Perhaps the biggest crime of this sort is forcing Amy Adams to follow-up her
deservedly Oscar-nominated work in Junebug in a small role as
a clichéd, annoying and deluded "mommy and me" leader. Amanda Peet is beautiful
and a wonderful comic actress, however she does have enough bad comedies on
her résumé (
shame, because The Ex actually does have at its root a rather good
and subversive black comic idea for these overly politically correct times.
What would happen if a handicapped person is a completely passive-aggressive
asshole? Do you sit back and take it or fight back -- at risk of
looking like a bully to the rest of the world, which seems to be snowed by
his sad-sack act?
Braff plays Tom Reilly, a New Yorker with a
beautiful wife named Sofia (Peet) and a newborn baby. After he loses
the latest of a series of jobs, the couple decide to leave Manhattan to move
to her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where Tom will take a job with her father
(Grodin.) Once he gets there, he finds that his new boss is Chip, a
high-school friend of Sofia's who has been paralyzed from the waste down
since childhood. Tom quickly realizes that Chip never got over Sofia,
leading to a tug-of-war for power in the business, for favor with Sofia's
father and mother (Mia Farrow) and ultimately for Sofia's love.
The Ex is not
exactly an accurate title, since it appears that Chip and Sofia had a
one-night stand which he has been obsessing about ever since. Then
again, it probably works better than the original title, Fast Track,
since the movie endured a series of release delays before finally getting
slipped into theaters with very little fanfare.
There isn't a lot of
suspense in the story. No matter how angry she gets at his antics,
Sofia never seems to be falling out of love with her husband, nor does she
seem to warm up particularly to the oily Chip.
you want to see lots of pratfalls, Braff flipping a bike head-over-heels
over a parked car and a little kid swallowing a hamburger in one bite,
you're in the right place.
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 18, 2007.