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Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00
Local opening date: 5/11/2007
Reviewed by Martha K. Baker
There's something very comfortable about The Ex. The actors are experienced, the plot is a pretty good situation comedy, the lines are witty and the physical comedy is appropriately humiliating.


Tom Reilly, a bit of a slacker, works as a New York chef until he retaliates against his nasty boss by spraying him with the sauce du jour. Sofia's check as a lawyer has allowed Tom to flit from job to job, but Sofia took off work to raise their new baby. The young couple decides to go back to her home in Ohio, where a job awaits Tom with his father-in-law. He's to be the Assistant Associate Creative at Sunburst Communications, the kind of place where the break room is decorated in Fifties' style and where the employees toss around a make-believe ball, the so-called "yes"  ball, to develop camaraderie.

Tom's boss at Sunburst turns out to be Sofia's old flame, Chip. He's in a wheelchair and carries with him the aura of sainthood. Only, his dark side is showing. At least, around Tom it is. Tom sees Chip as an evil genius, while everyone else sees him as a man who manages to live a full life despite his disability. Chip still wants Sofia and he'll stop at nothing to get her. Nothing.

One day, while Sofia is bored out of her skull as a mother instead of a lawyer, she welcomes a small boy into her home. Turns out he has a talent: he can stuff an entire hamburger into his mouth and swallow it without gagging. The perfect spokesperson for Sunburst Pickle Whip campaign, according to Tom. Chip renews his efforts to undermine poor Tom, but Tom is smarter than anyone thinks he is.

The Ex
, formerly entitled Fast Track before it was shelved for a couple of years, is not Farrelly Brothers or even Ben Stiller. But it's always fun to watch Zach Braff, who carries a bit of his role as JD on Scrubs into the role of Tom. Amanda Peet, who was recently seen on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is good as Sofia, and Mia Farrow is very believable as her mother. Donal Logue plays a new-agey client at Sunburst. Jason Bateman is marvelous as the devious Chip, well worth the price of admission to see him steal scenes and also chew the scenery. Another delight is Charles Grodin as Sofia's father. Turns out, he's last generation's version of Zach Braff, with the same ability to deliver lines in the same role of the darling although inept person. He handles the rhythm of corporate speak beautifully. Director Jesse Peretz tosses these air balls with pretty good timing, and writers David Guion and Michael Handelman toss in enough references to popular culture that the whole film is just cozy, albeit a little lame.

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