1998 - PG-13 - 122 Mins.
|Director: Ron Howard
|Producer: Brian Grazer
|Written By: Sylvie Bouchard & Emile Gaudrealt
|Starring: Matthew McConaughey,Woody Harrelson, Rob Reiner, Ellen DeGeneres, Jenna Elfman, Jay Leno
|Review by: John Ulmer
"Ed TV" has the premise that most films out of Hollywood seem to like these days - the future of television. Filmgoers may recall that in "The Truman Show," Jim Carrey found out his whole life had been staged for TV. It was an involuntary choice, he was on TV and couldn't get out, or "off," I should say. In "Ed TV," Ed (Matthew McCougnaheyhowdoyouspellit?) lets a hoard of cameramen intervene with his life voluntarily, out of choice. He, along with his personal life, is publicly broadcast over the world. In "The Truman Show," we saw how many fans were crazy over Truman (Carrey), who was the target of attention but didn't even know it. In "Ed TV," Ed knows he is famous, he greets his newfound fame with eager support. As we could somewhat identify with Truman in "The Truman Show," there were too many plotholes for me to really enjoy it a whole lot, and in "Ed TV" the main character is just too ignorant and arrogant for me to recommend it. We may be able to identify with Ed, but we don't necessarily want to, much the contrary of Carrey's Truman.
Ed leads a simple life in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere. But when some high-ups at a broadcasting company (Rob Reiner and Ellen DeGeneres) offer him a deal to be the center of a TV show devoted entirely to him, he agrees. But soon his personal life is the subject of exploit - he can't keep anything secret, including a scene where he kisses his brother's girlfriend (Jenna Elfman). His brother, Ray (Woody Harrelson), sees this on television show, and in the weeks to come even writes a book titled, "My Brother Pissed On Me." Ray takes his book live on "Politically Incorrect," where host Bill Maher says he has no interest in reading Ray's book "because it sounds stupid." Perhaps that is the only great thing about "Ed TV" - its phenomenal cast. Getting Rob Reiner, Woody Harrelson, and perhaps Elizabeth Hurley alone must be a hard task, but with cameos from the likes of Jay Leno (who appears more than once), Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Dennis Hopper, etc., etc., one must wonder: Why? I suppose that since "The Truman Show" was a colossal hit, as always Hollywood tried to jump in on the idea, as did a lot of big-talent stars hoping to help out their careers. "Ed TV" just hinders their careers - if there was any spark of creativity in this film, it still wouldn't help the actors involved, as the public would disrespect them for cashing in on "The Truman Show." Andrew Niccoll, though his screenplay full of gaps and holes the size of the Grand Canyon, at least provided an insightful, original and "What if?"-type comedy. "Ed TV" is just a rip-off.
Ron Howard is the director of "Ed TV," the little boy who played Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show" all "growed up." In 2001 he snagged the Best Director Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind," the true story of the brilliant mathematician John Nash. That film had a distinct presence of a great director, but "Ed TV" feels anything but a well-guided comedy. The timing is all wrong, I chuckled once - ONCE - and that was it. There is nothing funny about this movie, not even the premise. Once again I come back to "The Truman Show" - if that film had never been made, would this film be funny? Probably. But seeing how it came out about a year apart from "Truman," it isn't as funny as it is appalling.
Even the one scene that could have been funny, when Ed is making love to Elizabeth Hurley's character on national television and falls off a sofa onto her pet cat, is handled with wrong timing and effect. Ed falls off the sofa, and there is a long pause, he says something broke his fall, and after seeing a little tail sticking out from under Ed, we then cut to see a cat, outside on a stretcher, bound in bandages. It just isn't funny. The Farrelly Brothers knew how to make an injured animal funny in "There's Something About Mary" - it isn't just the visuals of it that is funny, not just the idea, but the timing. The Farrellys knew this. If you have an audience laughing, and right when they start to calm down you pounce another strong, or even mild gag upon them, it will just start them all up again and heighten the laughter. "Ed TV" has this all wrong. It thinks that the gags and visuals involved alone are funny, but before filming started on "Ed TV," I think that the involved crew should have put a little effort into the timing and not the cameos.