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Movie Review

The Ex a.k.a. Fast Track

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, brief language and a drug reference

Reviewed by: Lacey Mical (Callahan) Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy, Romance
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2007
USA Release:
May 11, 2007 (900 theaters)
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company

Pregnancy—answers to frequently asked questions

Marriage and parenting

Featuring: Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Mia Farrow, Charles Grodin, Donal Logue
Director: Jesse Peretz
Producer: Marc Butan, Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner
Distributor: The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company

“Credit-grabbing, back-stabbing, wife-nabbing. Just another day at the office.”

Tom and Sofia Riley are a happily married young couple expecting the birth of their first baby. As the film opens, we see the two playfully quibble over name choices and carefully plan their new lives as parents. Tom (Zach Braff) will keep his job as a chef, where he is to receive a promotion soon, and Sofia (Amanda Peet) will resign from her position as a lawyer to stay at home and take care of their child full time.

The young Rileys’ well-intentioned plans are thrown off-course when, on the very day that Sofia goes into labor and delivers their new baby boy, Tom is also fired from his job for standing up to his boss who is berating a coworker. Shortly after the baby is born, Tom informs a crestfallen Sofia of their new circumstances, and after receiving some harsh words from his wife about his pattern of not holding down a steady job, Tom suggests that they move away from the high cost of living in New York City, back to Sofia’s hometown in Ohio where he can accept a position at her father’s advertising firm.

At this point, the film shifts gears from a sweet, romantic comedy to a screwball farce, sprinkled with doses of satire, as Tom enters the new-age atmosphere of the advertising firm where his father-in-law (played by Charles Grodin—his first film role in 15 years) has hired him. The primary focus of the film becomes the rivalry between Tom and wheelchair-bound Chip, his wife’s schoolmate from her teenage years, who is determined to sabotage Tom at every turn.

Chip (Jason Bateman) is “like a son” to Tom’s father-in-law, and he is placed over Tom at the ad firm—as his mentor. He resents and feels threatened by Tom’s presence at the firm. An “Eddie Haskall” character who is vindictive, manipulative, dishonest and cruel, Chip wants Tom to fail both in his job and in his relationship with Sofia, for whom Chip still carries a torch.

While Sofia wrestles with missing her job as an attorney and feelings of loneliness at home with the baby, Tom, who is an overall “nice guy” and only wants to succeed at supporting his family and getting along with those around him, is eventually dragged down by Chip’s constant taunting and vices, so the two men engage in an all-out war.

There are several scenes of slapstick violence, but no gore.

While there are no actual lovemaking scenes, the sexual content is somewhat extensive:

  • There are several references to homosexuality, including a scene from a pornographic film, wherein two men caress and kiss each other.
  • Amanda Peet’s character bends over in front of the camera to put down her baby. The scene was innocent, but the camera shot was obviously a gratuitous view of her bra and breasts as her shirt hangs forward.
  • Women discuss the use of Bag Balm for breastfeeding mothers, and two different women are shown applying it under their shirts.
  • Jason Bateman is shown nude in his wheelchair. No privatal areas are on screen, but Zach Braff’s character is shown reacting to the other man’s nudity, as Bateman’s character looks down and speaks to his genitals.
  • Tom and Sofia have an argument about not having had sexual intercourse in a long time, and Sofia makes a crude remark about the effects of childbirth on a woman’s body.
  • Sofia admits to Tom that she had a sexual encounter with Chip while in high school. Later, a female co-worker tells Tom in somewhat graphic terms about Chip’s sexual prowess.
  • While in the hospital to give birth, Sofia laughingly whispers to the nurse about the shape of Tom’s genitals, which humiliates Tom, who is in the room.
  • Tom and Sofia visit a mock marriage counselor, who suggest that he touch their private areas and quickly reaches for both at the same time while the couple jumps back.

Language: 9 religious exclamations, 1 f-word, 18 sexual references, 13 anatomical terms, 1 obscene hand gesture, 11 scatological terms, 13 mild obscenities, 2 derogatory terms for physically handicapped (list from Kids-in-Mind)

My bottom line:

This movie was reasonably entertaining. The acting is good, and the storyline was somewhat original, though many of the threads can be found in previously made films. It provided several laughs not fueled by crass or crude humor, though there was an unhealthy dose of that sort of base scripting as well. From an entertainment value perspective, it’s probably one worth renting. From a moral standpoint, I do not recommend this film. Definitely not a family-friendly flick.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I enjoyed this movie. It was a pleasant alternative to today’s other movie choices. It was light-hearted, not dark. The ultimate moral of the story was good: a decent man who loves his wife tries to stay employed, even though his intolerance of fraudulent people and injustice has cost him many a job. Despite the troubles he meets at his new job, he and his wife are determined to stay together. Neither one strays from their marriage at all. A refreshing change today. There is some suggestion of nudity and private parts, but I did not find it flagrant or gratuitous. The character of Tom, played by the very original Zach Braff, is well-defined as the sole truly sane person in the goofy ad agency by which he’s hired, thanks to the efforts of his father in law. In fact, the decision to move to Ohio and take this job he credits God: “I think maybe God wants us to leave New York.” His wife, Sofia, played with charm and grace by Amanda Peet, is also the most sound of mind in her social circle of stay-at-home moms. The bad guys get their just deserts, and the good guys, meaning Tom and Sofia, and even her slightly off-the-wall parents, are rewarded for their loving family values. I think this movie is worth seeing. It is lighthearted and fun, and I think that is worth the cost of a ticket.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
Halyna Barannik, age 61