By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 13, 2007 at 5:03 AM

If you go see director Jesse Peretz’s “The Ex,” expect to see a lot of familiar faces, starting with Zach Braff’s.

Of course you may also find the story line a little familiar and you likely will be able to see the plot turns coming up, too. But, while “The Ex” can’t stand up next to Braff’s own “Garden State,” it’s got a great cast and is a decent film.

Tom Reilly (Braff) has trouble keeping jobs, but since his wife Sofia (Amanda Peet) is about to have a baby, he’s got to get it together and get a “real” job, that is a job that he despises and grinds him down daily.

Luckily, once Oliver – the baby arrives – Tom can finally – and regrettably – take his father-in-law (Charles Grodin) up on that job offer he’s been dangling for a while … in Ohio. So, the Reillys pack up, leave Manhattan and land in a small, unnamed Ohio city.

Tom starts working as an “assistant associate creative” at Sunburst Communications, an ad firm run by a New Age hippie (Donal Logue) that creates animated, politically incorrect spokes-characters out of assorted vegetables.

The star player is Chip (Jason Bateman), a paraplegic former high school cheerleader, who once dated Sofia and is the apple of her dad’s eye.

Chip’s a tool, basically, and is still fixated on Sofia. The fact that he once slept with her digs deep down under Tom's skin. So, while he awaits a reply to his job application to a world-renowned ad agency in Barcelona, Chip decides to make Tom’s life hell so that he can get him fired and steal Sofia.

Meanwhile, Sofia, a lawyer, has given up her career to be a stay at home mom, and it’s driving her crazy. She misses the fast-paced world of work and struggles with being content at home all day. Clearly, she and Tom are in opposite places and ought to switch, but no one on screen can work that out like we viewers can, it seems.

Chip is a master of evil but only Tom knows it. And since he can’t walk, he’s able to use that to his advantage, using it for sympathy, excuses, etc. Tom’s got to figure out how to get the upper hand and he spends a lot of time in “The Ex” failing.

And, to the director’s credit and the credit of the cast, each time Tom fails, we squirm more and more, hoping that Chip will get what’s coming to him. “The Ex” is a comedy and something of a romance, but Tom’s tribulations are something a lot of us can relate to, so it has some serious and seriously frustrating moments.

The cast has other familiar faces. Sofia’s ditzy mom is played by Mia Farrow and other employees at Sunburst are played by “Saturday Night Live” cast members Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler.

"The Ex" won't likely stand among Braff's finest career moments, but it's fun and with the great cast, it's well-done. You could do a lot worse.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.