Movie Mom

Painfully overlong at under 90 minutes, “The Ex” (formerly known as “Fast Track”) is a clunky, lead-footed disaster, the stunning incompetence of its script and direction only exceeded by the shocking array of talented and successful performers who struggle in it as though they are going down for the third time. In quicksand.

All that before we get to how offensive it is. This film tries to be outrageous, daring, and edgy but it is just crude, sluggish, cheap, and boring. There is a long list of groups who could file defamation actions against the producers of this movie, including disabled people, little boys, anyone with a job, citizens of Ohio, and pretty much the entire human race.

This is the story of Tom (Zach Braff) and Sofia (Amanda Peet), who move to Ohio with their new baby so that Tom can go to work in his father-in-law’s advertising agency and Sofia can be a full-time mom. Tom is assigned to work with Chip (Jason Bateman) — think Eddie Haskell with a touch of Charles Boyer in Gaslight. A creepy guy in a wheelchair that everyone but our hero thinks is an Eagle Scout! And wait, there’s more! He and Sofia knew each other in high school. They were cheerleaders and he hoisted her up high with his hand on her rump. And they had sex once. And he still likes her! Add in some attempts at The Office-style humor — this is the kind of place where people throw an imaginary YES ball at each other to keep that teamwork going — pratfalls and crotch hits, moments of excruciating embarrassment, professional mishaps, a kid who stuffs a whole hamburger in his mouth at once (many, many times), potty humor (many, many times), references to private parts, a marriage counselor who has his clients smack each other with bats, a plot twist stolen from every single episode of Bewitched and it has to be funny!

Not. Especially after a ludicrous fake-out near the end that shrieks of reshoots following understandably horrendous feedback from test audiences.

Some of the wittiest and classiest actors in movies today somehow ended up in this mess, which will certainly appear in a gag reel in any future award show tributes. In addition to stars Peet and Braff, we gasp in horror as yet another previously-unsullied reputation is, well, sullied. Donal Logue as a long-haired hippie CEO! Amy Poehler as an office drone! (Wasn’t Envy bad enough?) Oscar-nominee Amy Smart as a mom who believes in baby massage! For this, Charles Grodin makes his first movie in 13 years? What’s the matter, Mia Farrow? All those kids need tuition payments?

Every one of these questions was more interesting to think about than the plodding storyline and the pointless pratfalls. This movie gets a big NO ball from me.

Parents should know that this movie has very crude material for a PG-13. There is a lot of comic violence, including pushing a disabled character down the stairs. Characters use strong language (one f-word) and make offensive jokes. There is brief drug humor.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the characters in this movie to tell each other what they were thinking.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Saving Silverman and Stuck on You, by no means classics but far better than this one.

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