Reviewer's grade: C-
Alas, a wonderfully tasteless premise and a talented cast mean little without a killer instinct. The comedy sets up some irresistible targets, but what promises to be a bloodletting winds up as little more than a manicure. Zach Braff stars as Tom Reilly, whose inability to hold down a job leads him and his wife (Amanda Peet) to Ohio, where Tom takes a job at the touchy-feely advertising firm of his father-in-law (Charles Grodin).
Complications ensue when Tom's workplace mentor, the wheelchair-bound Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman), mounts a campaign of terror, sabotaging Tom's budding career in hopes of rekindling an old high-school romance with Tom's wife. So much potential, such little payoff.
"The Ex" appears poised to skewer political correctness, male insecurity and New Age-y business practices, but the filmmakers lack the confidence of their own nastiness. Only Bateman, blessed with the script's meatiest role, has an opportunity to strut (or roll) his stuff. His Chip is a diabolical mix of arrogance and creepiness. PG-13
- Phil Bacharach