The film generally received negative reviews from critics. It had a gross of $5,178,640.
Living in Manhattan, Tom (Zach Braff) is a cook who has difficulty keeping a steady job. His wife, Sofia (Amanda Peet), is an attorney. When their first child is born, they agree that she will be a full-time mom and he will work hard to get a promotion. When Tom gets fired after defending his friend Paco (Yul Vazquez), he takes a job in Ohio working at the ad agency where his father-in-law is the assistant director. Tom is assigned to report to Chip (Jason Bateman). Chip is a strict and hard-working paraplegic man who is coincidentally Sofia's ex-boyfriend from high school. Chip still carries an obsession with her, so he conspires to make Tom's work life miserable. As Tom's frustrations mount, Chip begins to sway Sofia to his side.
Tom begins to suspect that Chip isn't handicapped at all and goes through his desk. He finds a photo of Chip playing tennis and rushes to his in-laws' house to see his wife and show her the picture. He finds Chip having dinner with Sofia and her parents and holding Tom's child. Tom mercilessly tries to prove that Chip isn't actually paralyzed by dragging him up a flight of stairs and then throws him, expecting him to stand up to prevent falling. Chip doesn't stand up and Tom is humiliated in front of his family. Later, he confronts Chip outside his house and attacks him, where Chip reveals that he really can walk, but can't fight outside of his chair. After sitting back down, Chip beats him severely and reveals that he plans to sleep with Sofia, much to Tom's already-increased rage.
It's revealed that Paco had called Chip under the guise of being an ad agency boss in Barcelona, telling Chip that he got a job and convincing him to fly to Spain. Excited by the news, Chip goes to Sofia and asks her to come with him. However, Tom accosts them both and convinces her not to go with Chip. Chip, angry that Sofia chose Tom over him, heartlessly mocks Tom and reveals he "faked his orgasm" to Sofia before getting out of his chair and walking out. While chastising them from outside, Chip is hit by a bus and ends up breaking both of his legs, crippling him for real. Tom and Sofia have moved out of Ohio and Sofia's dad is helping Tom start his own ad business. Tom and Sofia are shown to have switched positions, Tom becoming a stay-at-home dad while Sofia becomes a full-time worker. During the credits Chip is shown being tossed out of the ad company in Spain, and later on Tom's friend sees Chip in the middle of the running of the bulls on TV.Zach Braff as Tom Reilly
Amanda Peet as Sofia Kowalski-Reilly
Jason Bateman as Chip Sanders
Charles Grodin as Bob Kowalski
Mia Farrow as Amelia Kowalski
Lucian Maisel as Wesley
Amy Poehler as Carol Lane
Paul Rudd as Leon
Fred Armisen as Manny
Donal Logue as Don Wollebin
Amy Adams as Abby March
Josh Charles as Forrest Mead
Marin Hinkle as Karen
Romany Malco as Hakeem Oliver
Yul Vazquez as Paco
As of January 9, 2010, on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 19% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 100 reviews (19 "fresh", 81 "rotten"). By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 32, based on 24 reviews.
Several film critics said the film felt truncated. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post said the film "seems arbitrarily edited to squeeze in extra screenings before it's killed by word-of-mouth." Film critics also felt that the majority of the cast's talents were wasted. Many film critics also compared the film to a sitcom. Pam Grady of Reel.com said the film "never rises above the level of a TV show grotesquely inflated for the big screen."
Jesse Peretz was criticized for his direction by many critics. Phoebe Flowers of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said the film was "directed with a breathtaking lack of instinct by Jesse Peretz." A few critics described the film as half-baked. Sean Means of The Salt Lake Tribune said "It's like undercooked lasagna: lots of layers, but the flavors never blend." Bill Muller of The Arizona Republic said the film was Zach Braff's most average movie so far. Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer said that after The Last Kiss and Garden State, "Braff's shtick...is getting tired." Desson Thomson of The Washington Post said the film "marks an all-time low for actor Zach Braff -- his Gigli, if you will.."
The screenwriters, David Guion and Michael Handelman, virtually disowned the finished film. Handelman said, "I think what we wrote was meant to be a bit less broad than the film that came out. I think a lot of what you see in either of those films is stuff that was not written by us even though we’re the only credited writers on that." Guion added, "That movie was a bit of a cautionary story for screenwriters in terms of that it was a movie that struggled a little bit and didn’t test well initially, and the financers panicked and said, 'We better show a lot of people getting hit in the balls'... It was unfortunate because the director, Jesse Peretz, is great and very talented, but the movie was ultimately taken out of his hands."
Zach Braff and Jason Bateman were praised for their performances by several critics. Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel said "Braff and Bateman make this patchwork just funny enough to be worth our trouble." Jason Bateman was praised by several film critics as being the best part of the movie. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews said "there's little doubt that Bateman deserves the lion's share of praise thanks to his scene-stealing work as Tom's hilariously smug nemesis."
The film opened at #12 at the U.S. box office, earning $1.4 million in 1,009 theaters in its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $3,093,394 in its nine-week theatrical run in the United States. In other territories, the film grossed $2,085,246 making its total worldwide gross $5,178,640.