The Ex – Fast Track (2006)
Directed by: Jesse Peretz | 93 minutes | comedy | Actors: Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow, Lucian Maisel, Donal Logue, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Bob Stephenson, Yaffit Hallely, Josh Charles, Marin Hinkle, Yul Vazquez, Michael Lawson, Paul Rudd, Amy Adams
The original title of this movie ‘Fast Track’ has been changed to ‘The Ex’. When and how does not matter, but is important: why? Is the film about fast-paced, modern life and the toll it takes on parenthood or life in general? Or is it about an ex who messes up a couple’s life because he needs her back? Actually neither, or is it? And actually it’s also about growing up and taking responsibility, facing your weaknesses, et cetera. A little too much to list.
It is this ambiguity that undermines the film. What is deployed as a sharp comedy about standard roles, expectations and prejudices, shoots in all directions and misses its target. If there is then a pretty unbelievable twist at the end, it’s really clear: the makers forgot to choose which way they wanted to go. Zach Braff is a nice actor, who surprised the film world in 2004 with ‘Garden State’, a film he wrote and directed himself and in which he also played the lead role and which scored quite well as an indie. You’d think his food had been bought.
‘The Ex’ disappoints in that regard. Perhaps it would have been better if Braff had picked up the pen himself and sat down in the director’s chair, but alas, he didn’t. Jason Bateman also does not come out well. The dry comedic talent he showed in the television series ‘Arrested Development’ is not put to good use. This is also due to the fact that the characters do not come out well in the choice of genre: is it really laughable or does it all become a bit more serious and realistic, as in ‘Knocked Up’ from 2007 by Judd Apatow.
There is not much to say about the relatively unknown director Jesse Peretz. He made some nice video clips for the Foo Fighters, after a career as bassist for The Lemonheads. ‘The Ex’ is his third feature film in nine years. If it takes so long to find money and opportunities to make a film, it is wise to arrange a better script and make clear choices. Better luck next time.