The Ex: Unrated – DVD Review

Directed by:
Jesse Peretz

Starring:
Zach Braff … Tom Reilly
Amanda Peet … Sofia Kowalski
Jason Bateman … Chip Sanders
Charles Grodin … Bob Kowalski
Mia Farrow … Amelia Kowalski
Lucian Maisel … Wesley
Donal Logue … Don Wollebin

The Weinstein Company presents The Ex. Written by David Guion & Michael Handelman. Running time: 89 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for Sexual Content, Brief Language and Drug Reference). Released on DVD: August 21, 2007. Available at Amazon.com.

The Movie


Am I living in an alternate universe? Because any movie that features Zach Braff and Jason Bateman as on screen rivals in a comedy should be a laugh riot. instead, we have a roughly 75 minute film (taking away the beginning and end credits) that seems to never get off the ground, barely producing a single laugh.

Where to start…

Zach Braff stars as Tom Reilly, a guy who seemingly can’t hold down a job to save his life yet is married to rising, no-nonsense lawyer Sofia Kowalski (see, they’re the perfect odd couple!) and they’re expecting their first child. When Tom loses yet another job, this time as a cook in a downtown New York restaurant (by way of a food fight, no less), he decides that if he’s going to provide for his family then the best way for him to do so is to move to Ohio and accept a job offer by Sofia’s father.

When we get to Ohio, we meet Bob and Amelia, Sophia’s parents, and are introduced to the work environment of which Tom will be a part. Sunburst is an “alternative” advertising agency that believes in a business appropriate dress code and has its employees throw around an invisible “yes ball” all day long, even during meetings.

We then meet Chip Sanders, a wheelchair bound ad man who dreams of working for a big time advertising agency in Barcelona, Spain. It isn’t long before we find out that he used to date Sophia and still harbors feelings for her. Which leads him to doing whatever it takes to make Tom’s entire family and co-workers turn against him, for the small chance of winning back Sophia.

The Ex is a complete hodgepodge of unrelated plot points stitched together for no apparent reason, and it shows. It attempts to introduce so many new and exciting ideas (well, its idea of new and exciting, anyway) that it never even attempts to hone in on one, or even three, of them to make a somewhat coherent story. And that is the biggest flaw, it takes so many ideas and mixes them together to the point were it becomes an incoherent mess.

Tom being fired from his job isn’t enough. Them having a newborn child, not enough. Working for his father in law, not enough. Him having marital problems after the child is born, not enough. There being an old flame from his wife’s past isn’t even enough. It’s so all over the place that it never build any of the plot detours or characters to a pleasing conclusion when the end credits start to roll.

It’s so busy trying to mock and ridicule the alternative methods to things like advertisement, parenting and marriage counseling that at times it feels like the writer wrote all of those scenes first and then tried to tie them together in to a film. The jokes are so broad and unoriginal that its just a chore to sit though the movie. An irritatingly safe comedy that never tries anything new, relying heavily on jokes and gags that have been run into the ground for the past ten years.

This new “unrated” version has removed several scenes from the theatrical cut, including a wheelchair basketball game where Chip talks Tom in to joining them in a game and then has the others players go after him once they find out he’s not a paraplegic. It’s a very predictable scene, but it was needed to at least give the Chip character some type of presence in the film. Instead he’s now left even more one dimensional. And the ending has also been chopped up to where it doesn’t make as much sense. Previously Chip revealed that he was in fact faking his disability, only to be hit by an oncoming vehicle and finds himself wheelchair bound for real. This is nowhere to be found in the movie.

The problem with taking those scenes out is that it leaves Chip flat and even further underdeveloped. Also taking away most of the explanation for why Tom is so angry with Chip. They can cut and re-assemble this film as many times as they want, but the story itself is fundamentally broken and flawed to the point where no amount of re-working can solve that problem. It just has a complete inability to make any type of impression at all, taking up time without actually saying anything.

Zach Braff isn’t given much to work with and is left making strange faces or resorting to physical comedy when a joke falls flat. Batemans is best at playing a straight man, yet here he’s hammy and continuously plays the role over the top. Peet isn’t given much to work with in here “stay at home Mom” role, but she manages to get by and does a good job with what she’s given. And Mia Farrow is on a completely different planet. It’s Charles Grodin who manages to shine here, making me wonder where he’s been all of these years. Numerous other talented comedians are used to to little or no affect in the cast, like Amy Poehler, Romany Malco (who has been edited out of this version), Fred Armisen, Paul Rudd, Amy Adams and Donal Logue.

The best word to describe The Ex is awkward. Which isn’t in the context that I think the people responsible for the film were looking for, because instead of laughing at the situations the characters are in, like with The Office, we’re left wincing in our seats at what they want us to laugh at. I don’t know why there are always movie where casting promises one thing but the finish products give audiences something completely different and disappointing, but The Ex is the latest to join the list of “what could have been” comedies.

The DVD


Video:
(Presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen)
The Ex receives the same treatment The Weinstein Company has given it for the past few years, kept it on the shelf for over a year, gave a very limited release and now seem to have just thrown it on a DVD and are done with it. No noticeable care went in to it and is very generic. Blacks seem to have been dialed up a bit too much and lose a lot of detail, with a lot of noticeable grain and white spots. Overall, it’s not a terrible transfer but could have been handled better.

Audio:
(English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround)
As with most every comedy, the disc features a front heavy 5.1 track that only widens to the rear speakers when the films soundtrack kicks in. Audio comes out clear for the most part but at times seemed to have a slight echo.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes (6:00) – The eight deleted scenes that are included feature some more material on the subplots of the film that are probably better left out of the movie. They also include some stuff with Tom and Chip that would have added more to their onscreen dynamic.

Alternate Opening (1:33) – Instead of starting with any type of sensible opening, this version is an elaborate CGI shot of a woman throwing her husbands cloths out of a high rise building; having a pair of underpants drifting through the city and landing on Braff’s head. Thankfully they were smart enough to drop this idea early enough to where the CGI in the scene is nowhere near complete. But how did it get this far too begin with?

Alternate Endings (8:40) – Two alternate endings are here, one seems to have the movie end on a very strange note. The second one, on the other hand, is actually better than the ending used in the final cut. It give the characters better closure and takes away the awkward feelings that stem from the actual finale. Also included here is the films original theatrical ending which is by far the best of the bunch and should have stayed in this cut of the movie.

Bloopers (2:48) – It’s nice to know that the cast had at least some fun on the movie, although Bateman either takes this movie far too serious or knows what he got himself into and just wants out as soon as possible. There are a few laughs to be had here, and is worth viewing once.

Lastly, we have the films Theatrical Trailer (2:24) to round out the disc.

The Inside Pulse

Oh what a cast like this could have done with better material… If your remotely interested in seeing this, give it a rental. If possible, try and get the theatrical version as it’s a better cut of the film and also features better bonus material (but inferior video quality for unknown reasons).

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Ex: Unrated
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

4
THE VIDEO

6
THE AUDIO

6
THE EXTRAS

4
REPLAY VALUE

3
OVERALL
4
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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