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Garden State 3: The Last Kiss 2: The Ex Review
by Doom and Nixon
guest starring the Disabledist
The longest 90 minute romantic comedy ever.
I think they airbrushed Braff's nose.
Braff, we meet again. You've grown much since we last met, didn't you, Braff? You're now one of the most beloved actors in all of Hollywood, starring in a popular piece of shit (Scrubs), being swamped with offers to star in and/or direct pieces of shit, and now have even become the official voice of popular fast food restaurant chain Wendy's. But therein lies a dark underbelly to your career, Braff. Unlike the financial and pseudo-critical success of Garden State, the magnum opus for every teenage and college aged girl who thinks vague disaffected emotions, paper-thin messages like "Be yourself", inane romantic banter and cheap directing tricks equal 'deep' and 'emotional' filmmaking, The Last Kiss didn't too well. And The Last Kiss was basically Garden State if you replaced Natalie Portman with two women. The Ex, the newest atrocity from the Braff Movie Making For Dummies Factory, puts Braff in the role of a man in love with a woman who must juggle professional and personal problems all at once while a romantic suitor tries to disrupt the bliss of marital life. Sound familiar? It's The Last Kiss, only it's the girl this time being seduced, and there's 100% more annoying pricks in wheelchairs. Yes, it's more so comedy than drama. If Scrubs is any indication of Braff's comedy prowess, we're in for some pain. Some non-hilarious pain!
Zack Braff's latest "comedy" is everything his career in semi-drama/semi-light humor has been building up to. Despite clocking in at only an hour and a half, The Ex is absolutely plodding as it works its way though a generic old flame competing for the wife's love with a lot of hilarious Braff-esque humor mixed in. Because, you know, it just isn't a Braff film unless we get some wacky antics from the king of light, whimsical physical comedy himself. The real depressing part of this film is Jason Bateman, the competing love interest and former star of Arrested Development, a show notably different from this film in that it was funny. Watching Zack Braff cash in another paycheck off the crowd that thinks he's indie or hip or whatever the fuck people think he is today, but seeing Bateman's career get dragged into this is pretty sad. The other depressing part? Despite putting Bateman in a wheel chair the film paints by the numbers about his condition (he's faking! Surprise!) yet still keeps pretty tame in any jokes. If we're going to sit through Zack Braff braffing all over the place for an hour and a half, could we at least have a better cripple joke than "Hot Wheels"?
Those of you who care about a plot in a Braff flick and cannot already determine it from watching his previous bullshit, then let me describe it for you in a nutshell: Tom, aka Braff, has a wife who's pregnant and has trouble staying at one job for a prolonged period of time due to his inability to stop expressing his opinions. This culminates in a hilarious judgment error (I won't tell you what it is; that'd spoil the comedic genius displayed) at his chef job that costs him his employment there. The logical thing to do after having a child and having to support a family is to move to Ohio on the off-chance of wife's dad's job offer still being valid. Braff's boss is Chip, aka Jason Bateman, who is wheelchair bound...and EEEEEEVIL. So evil he sabotages Braff in the hopes of stealing Braff's wife from him, ruining his career and propelling Chip to a super-career in the Barcelona ad industry. You might think I'd say 'hilarity ensues' after revealing the initial premise...but it really doesn't. Really, really doesn't. It eventually concludes with a twist everyone saw coming a mile away (HE'S NOT REALLY CRIPPLED) and everyone lives happily ever after, except Chip, because he's evil.
Well. I suppose let's start by dissecting the small amount of 'humor' within The Ex. Surprisingly, The Ex does not follow in the footsteps of Garden State by basing the humor around 'quirkiness', aka the kind of humor that's indistinguishable from a lack of humor. You don't know if it really exists, so you have to take it on faith. Like God (...in that quirkiness isn't funny and God doesn't exist)! This one takes the approach commonly seen in Scrubs, which involves pratfalls, snark and overall screwball humor. What this means is The Ex is about 90 minutes of people falling over. It's not an exaggeration, it's literal. Okay, maybe not 'quite'. There's some vague satire or something about how new age workplaces are totally gay and needless. IT SHOULD BE MARGARET THATCHER/1870S TYPE FACTORIES, DAMMIT! But other than the brief trip into hippie-hate land, the rest really is Braff throwing Bateman down the stairs. For 90 minutes. It's great to see Braff expanding from his role on Scrubs to getting in hairy situations with the disabled. Or the fake disabled, as it were. I never thought I'd be saying this, but...Garden State was much funnier. SHOCK!
One of Zack Braff's main character traits in the film is his inability to keep a job. I get the impression he can't hold down a job because he trapped in a bizarro universe of jobs that only exist in wacky Zack Braff productions. Yes, he's stuck in a hell he himself created, and we're stuck watching it. The film starts by watching Braff get fired from his job in New York as a chef. The boss is an ass, and he tells him by spraying him with chocolate sauce. The boss, being a hard ass of course, responds with slapping him with a porkchop (CAUSE HE'S JEWISH) and then spraying him with other sauces. Then they have a food fight. Listen, I've never worked in a kitchen but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's not how it works. At all. Ever. Similarly the job Braff gets through his father-in-law in Ohio has to be the worst caricature of a new age workplace. Well, not really; they could have had them all around a bong having meetings in a drum circle. But short of that, the environment in Zack's new work place, one of "idea balls" and sticky note apologies is obviously fake bullshit the (conservative and stodgy) writers added in to get that light comedy feel Braff demands. And we all loathe.
Predictability is a bitch, and considering The Ex is paint by numbers, it can get on the viewer's nerves. I spent most of the film wishing it would turn out like it would, that Braff would keep his wife and Bateman would turn out to be able to walk and get utterly disgraced. That's the logical everyone ends up happy solution. With 90 long minutes to watch it play out, I had plenty of time to invent all the ways the film could have ended that would have garnished a less negative, even positive review. I think I should share some. One, Braff's wife snaps from the sudden stress of full time parenting and does what every postpartum depression mother does, drowned her baby to let Jesus out. Dark, admittedly, but a different change of pace and tone that shakes up everything. You never saw it coming, beyond all those shots where she was stressed out and the baby was crying. Two, Bateman can't walk. Not that he keeps faking he can't walk, the motherfucker CAN NOT WALK. Everyone leaves the film feeling like a jerk because he really was crippled even though he was an incredible ass. Feel good movie of the year. Three, Braff goes all "yes mother dear" while getting trained by Bateman, sends him down two flights of stairs in his chair. Goes down for murder charges, hilarity ensues. Or Braff kills everyone postal worker style because he's trapped in Middle America's nightmare. Okay, most of these are dark. I don't care. Dreaming of the cast of The Ex getting shot up was what got me through the film.
I thought it'd be a good idea to check IMDB's forums to see what Braff's adoring fangirls thought of the movie. What I found was hilarious. Some crippled guy posted a complaint about the movie not showing the true effects of the disability on a person, because Bateman turned out to be able to walk. See, Wheelie hates that Hollywood portrays all Go-Tards as saints or people who cope with their disability well. This guy wanted to see a guy with a handicap who was also a prick and an asshole. It would teach America to hate and despise the crippled, for no longer would the nation assume all handicapped people were nice people! Personally, I agree. The film would have been much better if Bateman was merely a dick, and not a dick fraud. It may not have made it a good movie, but it would've made it a trailblazing movie, just like the ones by the Farrelly Brothers which taught "all fat people are not monsters" and "multiple personality disorder is not as funny as initially assumed".
For a little insight into how the disabled were treated/mocked, here's our resident expert and cripple:
What the hell is wrong with this kid Bateman's problem! This movie is just an ableist plot to show that all disabled people are just conniving little shitheads trying to get special attention by getting free wheelchairs from the government. We need those chairs, dammit, along with all the medication that allows me to write this tripe with the half of the tongue I still have left. And the poster, don't get me started on that bullshit! What the fuck is up with the poster? The disabled guy is lower on the totem pole, eh Hollywood? Or as I call it "Walkiewood." Just because he supposedly can't walk means he's second class, according to this poster. The movie's named after him and he doesn't get first billing just because he plays one of us and not one of YOU. Hell, he is even one of you, and still the idea of him being disabled makes you mark him as a low down dirty thief. Well, he is, because there is nobody I like less than those bastards who pose as disabled and then take my parking spot at the local mall. You know how big my van is to contain all my special needed medical devices? DO YOU? Well, listen up, I'll start with...
Thank you, Disabledist. Your helping was...appreciated. Now, moving on. The upside of The Ex is it is the first flick Zacho's starred in that he didn't direct, write or rewrite, meaning the film banks entirely on his acting abilities, and not his James L. Brooks-like attempts at bullshit saccharine emotion. Yet it doesn't stop the bad comedy, the piss-poor plotting, the inane characters, the toothless satire and the meaningless romantic parts of the 'romantic comedy', though. I guess Zach Braff fucks up everything he comes in contact with, or he only picks shitty projects. He's the anti-Midas!
Final note: Amanda Peet's wife character referred to Zach Braff's as 'big nose'. ANTI-SEMITE.
How many drinks do I need for this to be good?: 222