Monday, 18 May 2009

Movie Review: The Ex

I'm a big fan of Zach Braff. Who isn't? I'm also a big fan of Jason Bateman. So when I found out that there was a film starring not one, but two of my favorite TV stars, I slammed that into my lovefilm waiting list and cranked it up to "Urgent". However, its the first point that makes this zany comedy a little thin on the ground, the two stars are TV people, and ultimately, it makes the film feel a lot like an extra long sitcom pilot. Whilst this may be true, the film hits home, albeit in a slightly roundabout way.

The premise of the movie is slightly typical, to say the least. Tom Riley (Braff) is a recently married and slightly hot-headed slacker, with his wife being played by Amanda Peet, with a slightly forgettable character considering her acting props, and Hollywood status. Although, the word slacker would be inappropriate, considering he has the drive, and the motivation, considering his heavily pregnant wife, but his problem being his temper, which sets in motion the events of the film. Having lost his job on the same day of obtaining a newly born child, he decides to uproot and leave New York for sunny Ohio, taking the offer of a job at his wife's fathers company, an advertising firm, and is forced to be the protege of the paraplegic and slightly strange go-getter Chip (Bateman).

This is essentially what makes the film unique. Usually this sort of movie would be based in another spectrum, from the woman's perspective, with the man taking a bit of a back seat, and whilst the relationship between a man and his wife's ex was explored in Judd Apatow's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Ex focuses more on the rivalry, and the panicky antics in Braff''s life as his mentor attempts to unravel his relationship between his wife. Its a story that we've all heard a billion times, but The Ex is the only movie Ive seen that conveys the frantic panicking, and paranoia involved with meeting your girlfriend, partner, or wife's ex effectively, with Braff essentially looking insane to everyone but him, which is a feeling I, and any man, can definitely empathise with.

The premise is a good one, solid, but it falters slightly in the execution of the different events that take place, with the scenes in the movie being slightly dis-jointed in places, but like many movies, the film is saved by its characters. The amiable Braff has a certain chemistry with the strange and creepy Bateman, and the background players, many of them veterans of America's Saturday Night Live (A long running late-night sketch show for you uneducated peons).

However, the film was a peculiar animal. My history with it has been slightly turbulent, and I'm not ashamed to say that I was scared at some point as the sheer weirdness of the situation. Granted, I had rented it from lovefilm, but I had also viewed it before ILLEGALLY over the magic of the interweb. I wanted to see it again in better quality, this is understanding, I like to watch my films without Japanese adverts floating across the screen almost every second. The strange thing was that when I viewed it a second time, the film was a lot longer. Many more scenes had been added, all of them making the film much funnier than it would have been without it, but they had changed the ending, and changed it for the worst. Part of it could have been to make the film flow better, and give it a concise and definitive ending, and part of it could have been lazy editing. Perhaps the production company was just drunk (and I expect the latter is much more likely) but instead of quite a touching tale about finding out what you were meant to do in life, we are given a clumsy and clunky ending that is overall, very unsatisfying.

Don't watch this film for the subtleties and don't expect anything too deep, but if you do watch it, do it for Braff and Bateman, because god knows they know how to entertain people, even if they cant do anything else.

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