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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 30.77%
Pretty Bad65.38%
Total Crap: 3.85%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Ex, The
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by Erik Childress

"A Depressing Waste Of Comic Talent"
2 stars

There must be an unspoken rule in Hollywood that a group of exceptionally talented people must all gather together once in their career and make an exceptionally unfunny movie. How else to explain the likes of You, Me & Dupree; Envy & It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World? These days we can normally blame it on Todd Phillips, but this hazing ritual is just cruel to the actors and even moreso to the audience. I thought Wild Hogs would fulfill our quota for the year, but someone somewhere hates comedic television actors and decided it was their turn to take a hit.

The Victims (for starters): Zach Braff (Scrubs), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Amanda Peet (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), Amy Poehler & Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live)

The Culprits: Jesse Peretz (director), David Guion & Michael Handelman (first-time screenwriters)

The Prank: Convince Zach Braff he’s starring in a feature-length episode. Doesn’t matter what show.

In the spirit of this practical joke, Braff plays a big-city chef and the architects of the film will place him in one unfunny situation after another beginning with a guest cameo from Paul Rudd that turns into a foodfight. Yes, this is the level of comedy Peretz establishes for the burn. Braff’s Tom Reilly, now unable to support his wife Sofia (Peet) must move them to Ohio so he can take a job at her father’s fruity-toity advertising agency. For some old-school authenticity, Peretz has somehow finagled Charles Grodin and Mia Farrow to play Peet’s parents.

His first day on the job, Tom makes a mea culpa at the expense of Chip Sanders (Bateman), his wheelchair-bound “mentor” who just happens to have been a high school classmate of Sofia – and former lover. It may have just been the one time, but Chip begins doing his own version of Punk’d by placing Tom in one uncomfortable position after another such as stealing his ideas and getting a leg up in a paraplegic basketball game to undermine him at every turn of the wheel.

Material like this requires a director who can mold the politically incorrect aspects of the screenplay into a manic dash of absurdity. Since the absence of comic pacing and farcical execution are essential for this miasmic directorial effort, Peretz creates a series of unfunny sketches that are dead on arrival and then shot-in-the-head just to be sure. Armisen as a part-time psychoanalyst with a conflict bat? Wonder how that will play out. Poehler’s co-worker telling Tom precisely what he doesn’t want to hear? I think that was her purpose but it’s hard to get a reading after only two scenes. Braff’s job hanging on getting a child to eat a piece of meat in one bite? Trust me, that’s a funnier description than watching how Peretz builds it up to a bug spray assault.

Doing his best to sabotage this joke on his fellow actors is Bateman. Aside from the film choice he brings to an evening with Sofia’s parents (the one true inspired joke present), Bateman really does what he can a few line deliveries to break up the monotony of audience hushness. Does Peretz really hate these actors? Is it professional jealousy or just another talent-challenged helmer on the comedy scene? The premise behind Bateman’s character would have been right at home as an arc on Arrested Development, but The Ex doesn’t have the stones to go for an all-out volley of political incorrectness or develop Chip in the same mold of Jim Carrey’s Cable Guy. I can understand Braff’s desire to seek out a comedy after the dramatics of the superior Garden State and underappreciated The Last Kiss, but putting him in this one is more malicious than having his car vandalized by Ashton Kutcher’s posse. My only hope is that when this cast finally got together to see the finished product, Peretz and company went on stage at the premiere citing Windy City Heat as the inspiration for this hoax. Then Braff and company firebomb them citing The Burning Bed as funnier than The Ex.

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originally posted: 05/11/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

3/27/08 Jack Sommersby Appealing performances can't elevate the mediocre material. 2 stars
12/17/07 gr Hideous. 1 stars
10/14/07 DK Starts well and has a gret cast but cops out well before the finale 2 stars
7/02/07 Cheryl Mayfield Pretty crappy, but hearing Amanda Peet talk about someone watching her poop was worth it. 2 stars
7/01/07 Lydia Helton Darn, WG. Bateman's insufferable! Braff OK,Peet above her usual; I blinked & missed 2 Amys. 3 stars
6/07/07 William Goss Only Bateman's worth watching in this laughless romp. 2 stars
5/17/07 Marlena I laughed often, but will only ever watch it again on a movie channel 3 stars
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  11-May-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Aug-2007



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