In this comedy, Jason Bateman plays the conniving Ex determined to sabotage his former lover's marriage. Zach Braff and Amanda Peet play the beseiged couple.

The Ex

on May 11, 2007 by Chad Greene
In The Ex director Jesse Peretz relies too heavily on artificial attempts at antic comedy that are ultimately at odds with the film's low-key yet amiable tone. For instance, after Tom (Zach Braff) is kicked out of his in-laws' house for throwing his conniving coworker Chip (Jason Bateman) down the stairs in an attempt to prove the guy's not even a paraplegic, does he really need to hit a rut and fly face-first over the handlebars of his bicycle as he tries to pedal away with some measure of dignity? (His suspicion stems in part from the fact that Chip isn't completely paralyzed from the waist down, as he had sex with Tom's wife Sofia, played by Amanda Peet, back during their high school cheerleader days.)

It's unfortunate that Peretz tries too hard, because the premise of The Ex would likely resonate with many married couples in an era when the clash between a woman's modern earning potential and her traditional role in the household can sometimes cause gender confusion in relationships. Although she's an up-and-coming attorney, Sofia decides she should instead be a stay-at-home mom—meaning that her underachieving husband needs to step it up to support the family.

When he manages to get fired from his job as a cook—sorry, “chef”—following a sauce-spraying, pork-chop-slapping blowout with his asshole boss on the very day their first child is born, however, Tom decides to make the ultimate compromise and take his father-in-law (Charles Grodin) up on his offer of a job as an “assistant associate creative” at a hippy-dippy ad agency where the employees are encouraged to toss around an invisible ball and dress in “business appropriate” attire. (“It's about being yourself,” a dependably droll Grodin explains, “but in an appropriate way.”)

Tom and Sofia's inevitable unhappiness, they come to realize, is due to the fact that their new roles don't allow either of them to be themselves. Too bad the filmmakers behind The Ex didn't learn the same lesson and just let this well-conceived comedy be itself. —Chad Greene Distributor: MGM
Cast: Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow, Fred Armisen, Amy Poehler, Amy Adams, Paul Rudd and Donal Logue
Director: Jesse Peretz
Screenwriters: David Guion and Michael Handelman
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Anne Carey and Ted Hope
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief language and a drug reference
Running time: 92 min.
Release date: March 9, 2007 NY/LA

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