There probably was, at one point, a decent script for the movie that eventually became The Ex. I’m not sure what happened to it but I have to believe that this many talented and funny people wouldn’t sign on to a project if there wasn’t at least a good idea in there somewhere.
As it stands The Ex succeeds at points and fails at points and unfortunately does more of the latter than the former. Zach Braff stars as a would-be slacker who can’t hold down a steady job, but is about to become a parent along with his wife, played by Amanda Peet. When he gets fired from the latest in a string of dead-end jobs the two decide to move back to her old hometown in Iowa. There her dad, played by Charles Grodin (who gives the best performance in the film) has offered Braff’s character at the ad agency he manages.
The problem is that also at the agency is Chip, played by Jason Bateman. Chip is the ex-boyfriend of Peet’s character and still bears a torch for her, something that leads to him sabotaging Braff’s newbie at every turn.
That’s the problem for the characters. The problem for the viewers is that it doesn’t seem like anyone agreed on what kind of movie they were actually making here. It’s too sunny to be a dark comedy and it’s too dark to be a slapsticky yuk-fest. The lack of character development is disturbing and physically blocks the viewer’s enjoyment of much of the movie.
There are some good bits in the movie and it is worth seeing, I think. But it’s obvious that the film has been tinkered with and chopped up. Characters often shift into complete non-sequitors in the middle of their lines and it’s not always clear what someone is doing where they are. It suffers for those cuts, likely made to try and salvage the film as much as possible.
I wish I could recommend the movie more since the cast, including Braff, Peet, Bateman, Grodin, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler is top-notch. I’d love to see the film as it was initially delivered to see what was cut out in-sequence and see how that movie stacks up to the finished product.
As it is I can say that it might be worth a rental, but with the expectations kept reasonable for just how much comedy is contained therein.
If you decide otherwise you can purchase The Ex at Amazon.