The Ex is a movie about marital mishegoss with a twist. While there are plenty of movies about married couples where one or the other’s “exes” are re-encountered, usually to challenge marital fidelity, I think this is the first I have seen where the ex in question appears to have an obvious physical disability; he is in a wheelchair, said to be “paralyzed from the waist down”. Having worked his way up in the field of advertising, Chip has nevertheless (no wheelchair ramp to the ad agency is shown) accomplished more career success than Sofia’s husband Tom, who starts out as a chef, but in order to make the money to enable his wife to stay home when she has a baby, he moves to Ohio and takes a job with his father-in-law at the advertising company where Chip, the ex, is a co-worker.
Chip still wants to have a relationship with Sofia, and as a master manipulator of people and situations, he makes Tom look bad on his job, gets Sofia’s father fired, and appears to be making progress getting Sofia nearer to getting into bed with him. It is made clear elsewhere in the movie that Chip gets sympathy (and sex) from women. However, Tom, convinced that Chip is faking his physical disability, tangles with him on several occasions as their relationship gets increasingly hostile.
Strangely, perhaps because it is easier to portray on screen than the subtleties of office politics, Tom is more overtly concerned with the idea that Chip is faking his physical disability than with proving his attempts to effect Tom’s career sabotage or the fact that Chip is making time with his wife, though the latter is something which is sufficiently motivating for Tom to threaten Chip. On one occasion, Tom tries to expose Chip as a faker by getting him out of his wheelchair and pushing him down the stairs, convinced that the instinct for self-preservation will kick in and Chip with move his legs and right himself to avoid the fall, but Chip does not do this and Tom ends up looking even worse in front of others. Chip has Tom in a bind, because Tom feels guilty about having negative feelings about a man who can’t walk, and society condemns Tom for hostility towards a man in a wheelchair, no matter how deserving he may be. The one bright spot is that Chip has applied for a job in Spain, and, if he gets it, he will be leaving, after all. (Chip’s less obvious mental disability is that he is a sociopath.)
Everything seems to be going Chip’s way, but in order to establish to the audience that Chip is, indeed, a wheelchair villain, towards the end of the movie, he gives a movie villains’ monologue of the sort usually declaimed by James Bond movie villains and Dr. Evil. Chip, Tom, and Sofia are at a restaurant sitting around a table when Chip reveals that he has defeated Tom “in every possible way” including in the eyes of his Sofia, whom he invites on a plane to Spain.
But at the last minute, in order to effect a “happy ending” for the married couple and to imply the intervention of a Higher Power dealing out cosmic justice, the tables are turned on Chip: Sofia refuses Chip’s offer, and declares to Tom, “You couldn’t lose me even if you tried. And you’ve been trying really hard lately.” Chip, in the midst of gloating, reveals he _has_ been faking his disability “have you tried to get a parking spot at the mall during Christmas shopping season?”, stands up, and leaves the restaurant on foot, doing a victory dance while lifting his wheelchair over his head, looking into the window of the restaurant, but not into oncoming traffic, where a bus promptly runs him over. He gets paralyzed from the waist down for real this time, and (this surely has to be Divine Justice for his sexual misconduct) it is discovered that he has testicular cancer.
Tom and Sofia manage to get a job and an apartment in NYC, and settle down with baby Oliver, having gotten their nuclear family off to an enviably secure start.