Bateman is in fine form, exhibiting the genius blend of deadpan delivery and outright zaniness that he perfected in his critically acclaimed sitcom Arrested Development. Braff does good work, too: Wacky and wry, he's as good as he gets in Scrubs. And Peet, as she did in the dearly departed TV drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, grounds the entire enterprise by being sweetly unaffected yet funny. Grodin and Mia Farrow (as Sofia's mother, Amelia) are, unfortunately, cut from the same oddball-parents cloth already worn to better effect in Ben Stiller's Meet the Parents. Had The Ex's script allowed Grodin -- who's back in the big-screen game after more than a decade away -- to shine in his trademark kinetic-laconic style (see The Heartbreak Kid and Midnight Run), it would've served his talents better and made for a funnier movie. And Farrow simply acts dumb, which is a waste of an intelligent actress.
The scenes in which Tom and Sofia struggle with their new roles -- she, joining an infant massage class in which everyone seems crunchier than she is, and he, presenting charts he has absolutely no idea how to explain -- are believable and surprisingly sympathetic. Still, it's unoriginal. Their struggles read like the cinematic version of the famous parenting book What to Expect: The First Year. Though some of the movie's jokes and gags work -- a scene in which Sofia tells her hippie "frenemy" that her son is a "dips--t" is hilarious -- just as many simply don't: When employees at the ad agency pass around an imaginary "yes" ball, for instance, and another bit about a New Age-y co-worker who attempts to provide marriage counseling to Tom and Sofia. A side plot about a neighbor's boy is a nice distraction but calls out for more development, as do many of the inspired cameos from the likes of Amy Poehler, Donal Logue, Josh Charles, Amy Adams, and Paul Rudd. Still, it could have been worse. The bummer is knowing that it could have also been a whole lot better.