12 December 2007 | Buddy-51
Changing the title hasn't helped
Writers David Guion and Michael Handelman and director Jesse Peretz must have called in a lot of favors when they made "The Ex," for how else to account for the presence of Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Paul Rudd and Amy Adams in as slight an indie comedy as the one they have manufactured here? And "manufactured" is definitely the operative term in this case, for "The Ex" feels contrived and phony from the get-go.
After he gets fired from his job as a chef in an upscale Manhattan restaurant, Tom Reilly (Braff) moves with his wife and infant son back to her hometown in Ohio where he gets a job at the same ad agency where his father-in-law (Grodin) works. One of the employees, Chip (Bateman), an old flame of Tom's wife, Sofia (Peet), tries to sabotage Tom at every turn, undercutting him at work and trying to rekindle the romance between Sofia and himself.
"The Ex" fails on a variety of levels, but the primary one is that, while it is supposed to be a satire of small town, middle American values, most of the characters - with their New-Age quirkiness and bohemian eccentricities - seem as if they'd be more at home living in some converted loft in Soho than on a tree-lined street in suburban Ohio. The setting of "The Ex" doesn't feel like Anyplace, USA; in fact, it doesn't feel like anyplace, period, except maybe the fantasy world of two overpaid Hollywood screenwriters. Add to this an assortment of unappealing and unappetizing characters, a tendency towards sitcom-level humor and plotting, and an over-reliance on heavy-handed slapstick and sight gags, and you have one of the major comedy disappointments of 2007. Braff is definitely a talented actor, but "The Ex" is a career path misfire that should be mercifully forgotten