Published May 11, 2007After a disappointing turn in last years whiny drama Last Kiss, and the most unfavourable season of Scrubs yet, it appears that Zach Braffs stock is quickly plummeting. Sure, he wooed many with his directorial debut, Garden State, but that was three years ago and everyones favourite zany, daydreaming doc is in need of a hit. Unfortunately, The Ex is not that hit.
Braff stars as Tom, a married man who loses his job as a Manhattan chef and is forced to accept an advertising position with his father-in-law (Charles Grodin) in Ohio to make ends meet after wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) gives birth. However, the agency isnt very traditional; Tom finds himself sinking into its new age methods, and then theres his mentor Chip (Jason Bateman), a wheelchair-bound schemer who just so happens to be Sofias high school flame, whos still holding his torch for her high. As a result, Tom quickly finds his job at risk, as well as his marriage, with Chip doing his best to create a divide and Toms ineptness causing plenty of damage.
Former Lemonheads bassist and renowned music video director Jesse Peretz has assembled an extraordinary cast (which includes a flaky Mia Farrow and SNLs Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen) for his third feature and there are definitely some shining moments that will have everyone laughing. However, The Ex is uncertain of just what kind of comedy it wants to be. There are plenty of black comedic moments (Batemans malicious handicapped villain is rife with discomforting hilarity), as well as far too many slapstick bits, but reducing the film to moments of straight-faced sentimentality and seriousness (mostly between Tom and Sofi) raises quite a few red flags as far as evenness is concerned.
There was plenty to work with, in terms of story, but writers David Guion and Michael Handelman were too busy trying to please different tastes for the sake of a PG rating. Had they left it as a straight, mean-spirited R-rated comedy this film could have been something special. As for Braff, well, he should be clinging onto that sizeable raise NBC gave him for his sitcom, because while films like The Ex give him room to show his comic chops, they dont exactly flaunt the potential people have been waiting for him to demonstrate over the last few years. (Alliance Atlantis)