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The Ex (1/10)

by Tony Medley

In order for a movie to have a chance there has to be something about it that is likeable. I recently reviewed a film called Georgia Rule. It had very little to like. But it did have one thing, a spectacular performance by Lindsay Lohan. I liked that so much I gave the film a positive rating.

The Ex, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing about it that is likeable. The protagonist, Tom Reilly (Zach Braff), is a dishonest schlimazel. Worse, Braffís presence in the film industry is puzzling enough. But for him to be playing romantic leads, as he did in The Last Kiss and here, is mind-boggling. I donít want to be unkind, but the man is not Brad Pitt or Cary Grant. Married to Amanda Peet (who plays Reillyís wife, Sofia Kowalski)? I donít think so. When Sofia declares her love for Tom at the end of the film, one wonders what the basis for the love is, because throughout the film Tom does nothing to justify it from her, or from anyone else for that matter.

Actually, the cast contains some people who should know better. Sofiaís parents, Amelia and Bob Kowalski, are played by Mia Farrow and Charles Grodin. Grodin is generally a big addition to any film, funny and competent. But thereís not much Charles or Mia can do with this woeful script (David Guion & Michael Handelman). These writers have not only created a distinctly unlikeable protagonist, but an unbelievable bad guy, Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman). How Chip has chosen to live his life is absurd. Lost in the mix with only a spare few lines is Amy Poehler, who plays one of Tomís co-workers, Carol Lane. She gives a good account of herself, but itís one of those roles where you have to look closely or youíll miss her. In truth, her character has no reason to be there.

There are so many ridiculous premises in this film that it would serve no purpose to list them all. Just about every method of operation used by the people who run the advertising agency Tom is going to work for would look to be about right for kindergarten. But anyone progressing out of kindergarten would have outgrown them all.

The idea is that Sofia gives birth shortly after the film opens and since Tom has lost every job heís ever had they leave New York for him to take a job with her father while she quits her job as an attorney to raise their child. Tom finds that her father has turned the firm over to Chip, who, it turns out, is an old flame of Sofiaís. Tom shows up for his first day on the job to find that his troubles have only begun.

As to Sofiaís birthing, director Jesse Peretz apparently has no experience with mothers, because almost immediately after the baby is born she looks as if she could go to a ball, with perfect makeup and not a line on her face from the ordeal. I asked my friend, who had five babies, if thatís the way one looked after giving birth and she laughed.

Maybe what follows is intended as humor. Nobody in my showing was laughing. I saw it on opening night and there couldnít have been 20 people in the theater for the 7:40 p.m. showing. I think that might be its high water mark.

This film, no comedy, is an insult to its audienceís intelligence.

May 12, 2007