2007_05_arts_theex.jpgThe Ex (directed by Jesse Peretz): A Zach Braff movie wherein shlubby Zach learns how to be a real husband and a real man—haven't we seen this before in The Last Kiss, Garden State or even on Scrubs? Though The Ex might seem like retread city, with the help of a strong supporting cast, a deft script and mostly tuning out on Braff's most Braffiness, it's actually quite an entertaining flick. Braff plays Tom Reilly, a chef who's about to become a first time Dad but gets fired after a blow up with his boss (a super greasy Paul Rudd). He and his wife, Sofia (the ever lovely Amanda Peet) decide to take up her parents on a long-standing offer to move to Ohio and get Tom a job in the Advertising game. Out in the 'burbs, Tom and Sofia struggle with new parenthood, their extended family and the reappearance of Sofia's annoying high school flame, Chip (Jason Bateman) who works at Tom's ad firm. For fans of Arrested Development, it's always a joy to see Bateman on screen, and he does some hilarious work as the obnoxious, wheelchair bound Ex. You want to punch him in his ascot-wearing face nearly every time he's on screen, and that's quite a feat for a guy who most recently played such a winning TV lead. In addition to Bateman nearly every other supporting part is filled by a solid comedic performer like Rudd, Charles Grodin, Donal Logue, Fred Armisen, Amy Poehler and Amy Adams. Each of them take totally throw away moments and sell them with such comedic sincerity. Also the plot line about career woman Sofia trying to adjust to being a stay-at-home mom is done with welcome deftness. It'd be great to see Peet in even more roles like this where her sensitivity and likability can shine through. Producers Ted Hope, Anne Carey and Anthony Bergman (ie. former nurturers of directors like Ang Lee, Nicole Holofcener and Michel Gondry) obviously understood that even though screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman as well as Jesse Peretz are just starting out in the biz, they all have the goods.

Other movies new to theaters this weekend include the follow-up to the '02 zombie hit 28 Weeks Later, Lindsay Lohan behaving badly with Jane Fonda in the comedy Georgia Rule and the New York documentary about musical teens making good, The Hip Hop Project.