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The Ex

Starring Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow
Screenplay by David Guion & Michael Handelman
Directed by Jesse Peretz

IN SHORT: A dateflick for both sides of the genome. [Rated PG-13 for Sexual Content, Brief Language and Drug References. 89 minutes]

There is an old expression that begins "Lucky in Love . . ." and probably ends with "but a disaster in everything else." That would pretty much describe the professional career of Tom Reily (Zach Braff) who, other than being married to the most beautiful woman in the universe, can't manage to hold a job good enough to pay the rent. The wife, Sofia Kowalski (Amanda Peet) does that, as a hard working and well paid lawyer but when a baby comes a'poppin' out, well, Tom's income just can't cut the mustard. That means abandoning the Greatest City on Earth for the wilds of Sofia's hometown -- Columbus, Ohio -- and a job working for Bob Kowalski (Charles Grodin) aka her daddy.

Our college roommate was from Columbus. We've been there. It's a lovely town. Really.

Dad's company is now ownedby a hippie-esque dude called Don Wollebin (Donal Logue). That's really not a point. What is the point is that Tom's immediate superior, a wheelchair bound guy named Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman) is a real nasty piece of work. We could sum him up in three letters, starting with an "s," but there may be li'l kidlets reading, so we won't. Chip and Sofia go back to cheerleading squad in high school, and it's clear he never gave up his jones for her. Time and again, Tom is undermined and humiliated at the hands of Chip, who does everything but look the other way and whistle cluelessly. Tom holds on to his job solely because of the father-in-law connection, but that can only last so long and, as far as Chip is concerned, the worse Tom looks the better the old flame roars.

The script slips and slides when it refers to just how and when Chip lost his legs. That the story history doesn't line up is a minor point to make and, perhaps, it deliberately hints at what is to come, but we're not going to tell you that, either. Most of The Ex is about Chip undercutting Tom and making him miserable, while Sofia stays at home and tends to baby and misses lawyering bad. It's the same old same old but it's filled with enough laughs to make the sit quite enjoyable. Fleshing out the story is a minor bit about Wesley, the kid next door (Lucian Maisel). Shuttled between parental units in Ohio and New Jersey, the kid has a Boston accent you could cut with a knife, which nobody notices but us. Sofia takes the kidlet under her wing and that's about it. The Ex would be a big been there done that movie and easily dismissed by us except for the simple useless reason that Amanda Peet, even without makeup, takes our breath away.

That helps define a good dateflick, folks. Eye candy on top of an adequate script makes the viewing all the more fun. We can't vouch for the appeal of Zach Braff, yeah we like his teevee starrer Scrubs but that has nothing to do with looks <vbg> but he plays nicely off Peet. The Ex has all the weight of a teevee event but it's funny enough for dating.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Ex, he would have paid . . .


A big (as in share-the-) popcorn worthy dateflick.

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