Maybe you’re wondering why there’s a movie starring Zach Braff (Scrubs) and Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) that you never heard about. That’s what I was doing when I first received this disc. I’m a big fan of Braff, and a moderate fan of Bateman, so why was I not in the know on The Ex?
I’ll tell you why. The Ex had only a limited North American release in late 2006, and under a different title: Fast Track. It bombed. Then it disappeared for all but a handful of foreign markets, before washing ashore in DVD-land.
Here’s what you need to know about The Ex. First, this new title is light years better than Fast Track, and probably would have helped the film at the box office. Second, the title doesn’t fix the fact that the film is at best half-baked, a hodge-podge of gags strung together with an unfocused plot that does its best to undermine the talented cast who should have gotten out before shooting ever started.
It’s like no one knew what to do with this movie. The main story seems fine at first glance. Zach Braff is Tom Reilly, a new father who is forced to take a job with His father-in-law, (a well-season Charles Grodin, Dave) at a kooky ad agency where he finds himself up against his wife’s high school lover, sociopath Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman), competing not only for career success, but also for the affections of his own wife, played by Amanda Peet (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).
Let hilarity ensue, right? Well, not exactly. The film juggles between awkward humor a la The Office, slapstick gags like any other Hollywood comedy and run-of-the-mill romantic comedy stuff. The combo makes for a highly uneven tone, so even though there are some truly hilarious moments, they don’t flow together and there’s plenty of filler inbetween.
A quick glance at this disc’s bonus features reveals not one, but three alternate endings. And eight deleted scenes, all of which are honest-to-goodness scenes, not just extra scraps or obviously poor material. As a DVD fan, I’m happy to see all of these goodies on the disc, but it doesn’t say anything good about the actual film. Instead, it makes it painfully obvious that the filmmakers lacked a cohesive vision for their project. And it shows in the film.
The Ex – unrated edition is presented on one disc, in 1.85:1 widescreen format. The transfer is a bit above average, but not by much. There are a variety of minor issues with this presentation, including dull (but consistent) colours, a small amount of grain and shallow black levels. It’s not bad by any means, but you won’t be singing its praises.
Sound comes by way of your usual Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The mix is front-heavy, with only paltry support from the rear surrounds, but that’s to be expected for a dialogue-driven comedy like The Ex. Other than the clear dialogue, there’s a decent soundtrack that does an acceptable job filling out the aural experience.
Audio is English-only, but subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.
The Ex offers up a three-way of bonus content, including alternate endings, deleted scenes and a blooper reel. The endings include the film’s original theatrical finish, which includes a bizarrely violent death for one of the characters. The deleted scenes are well worth a look, but they’ll confuse the heck out of you with the number of side plots that were left out or unexplored.
Most importantly, the blooper reel is actually funny. Seriously. This is a rare treat indeed.
With such a strong comedic cast, I really wish The Ex was a different film. Watching it, you can sense the film it might have been, but alas, the truth is it’s a forgettable comedy that’ll entertain you for its 86-minute running time, and then disappear from memory before you return the disc to the rental shop.