By: Addison Wylie
American gross-out comedies were so popular during the birth of the 2000s, Canadian cinema hopped on board. I vividly remember Mark Griffiths’ road trip flick Going the Distance and Dave Thomas’ workplace scrub clad comedy Intern Academy being released in 2004, and producing piddly groans.
Canadian filmmakers are hitting another “monkey see, monkey do” phase as movie goers flock towards the comedic chops of Judd Apatow and his filmmaking protégés. Just like in 2004, this year, we have Mars Horodyski’s Ben’s at Home and Nathaniel Warsh’s My Ex-Ex being released within the same span of time. Only this time, audiences have a clear winner. If Ben’s at Home is an honour student, My Ex-Ex is the delinquent dropout the family is uncomfortable being around.
Warsh and screenwriter/co-star André Bharti are set on adapting Apatow’s improv friendly authentic insight and filthily honest conversations about relationships and the sexes, but they instead churn out a besmirching vulgar clunker. According to the movie, gals do nothing but obsess over guys, and men are faithful idiots who simultaneously see women as a threat and a means for sexual satisfaction. My Ex-Ex is an equal opportunity gender debaser.
Bharti’s script loosely follows a story you may have heard once or twice before. Mary (played by Katherine Barrell) is dating an egotistical jerk named Ted (played by Ray Galletti), and she’s blinded by his jackass ways. Mary is crushed when Ted dumps her over a fancy dinner – she thought he had plans to propose. She’s a snivelling mess no matter how hard her girlfriends try and cheer her up. However, during her heartbroken hopelessness, she runs into her ex-boyfriend before she committed to Ted. Patrick (played by Bharti) hasn’t changed since college, and Mary finds those qualities sweet. Meanwhile, has Brad made a mistake by dumping Mary for a ditzy blonde?
The reunion between Mary and Patrick is allegedly predicted by a hokey psychic (Royal Canadian Air Farce’s Luba Goy in a rare – and quite frankly bizarre – appearance), but the run-in is proposed in a way where a simple coincidence would be more believable than a contrived trip to the psychic.
The break-up plot is frequently put on hold for Patrick to talk “real” with guy pals Rob and Nathan (played by Randal Edwards and Alastair Forbes), and for Mary to go out to lunch with Becky and Sandra (played by Tamara Duarte and Emily Alatalo). The characters are one-dimensional stereotypes of what cynical people may think of each gender. The intimate conversations lack comprehension of the world around them, and exist only for the actors to play an inside game with each other based on who’s going to break character first.
Events and choices build towards redundant, time wasting situations. What’s even worse is when the situation is used to showcase the film’s disgusting and degrading sense of humour. When the guys aren’t fist-bumping and the girls aren’t giggling, they occasionally meet up to take part in some of the worst set-ups I’ve seen in a comedy. Bharti doesn’t want his audience to read too deeply into his dirty jokes, but its hard not to when a needless and questionable drunken threesome is concocted between characters who couldn’t stand each other mere minutes before the bedroom disaster started. And, don’t get me started on those childish visual gags that involve a flexible yoga teacher, and that wannabe rapper who breaks the fourth wall to rap exposition.
While My Ex-Ex played with itself, I slumped deeper into my seat and folded my hands over my face in embarrassment. Films like My Ex-Ex act as depressing step backwards in creativity. Too many people already pile on Canadian cinema and easily write it off as us trying to be something we’re not. There are tons of examples that prove this theory wrong, but My Ex-Ex only gives those naysayers more material to build their case on.