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Tired of running into `The Ex'

Amanda Peet and Zach Braff get stuck with scenarios we've seen too often before.

May 11, 2007|Kevin Crust | Times Staff Writer

A completely forgettable comedy starring Zach Braff and Amanda Peet, "The Ex" takes a mix of tired scenarios and combines them in a way that makes the nearly 90 minutes feel much longer. Time stands still as the various subgenres get run through the ringer for the umpteenth time by screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman and director Jesse Peretz.

Braff and Peet play Tom Reilly and Sofia Kowalski, a Manhattan couple about to have their first baby. The plan is for Sofia to give up her job as an attorney and be a full-time mom while Tom brings home the bacon with his expected promotion as a chef in a swanky restaurant. Things don't go as expected, however, and they are forced to move to Ohio, where Tom will accept the long-offered job to work with Sofia's father, Bob (Charles Grodin), in a "creative" advertising agency.

There's a stab at Farrelly brothers-style humor in the form of wheelchair-bound Chip Saunders (Jason Bateman), hand-picked by Bob to be Tom's mentor, and who happens to have been nursing a creepy crush on Sofia since high school. Chip is passive-aggressive in his attempts to set Tom up for a fall, but, except for the inspired casting of Bateman, the scenario lacks the needed bite to make it fly.

Most of the laughs rely on the humiliation of Tom and sight gags involving his physical pain. The workplace comedy aims for wacky with the presence of Donal Logue, Bob Stephenson and "SNL"-ers Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen, but it feels more like a warmed-over sitcom. Braff and Peet don't have much chemistry, so there's little motivation for the audience to care one way or another whether they stay together.

Originally titled "Fast Track" when it was scheduled to open last January, neither the wait nor the new title makes it worthwhile. The only fast track here is the one to home video.

"The Ex." MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief language and a drug reference. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. In general release.

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