ED TV (1999) 

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Matthew McConaughey
Jenna Elfman
Woody Harrelson
Sally Kirkland
Martin Landau
Ellen DeGeneres
Rob Reiner
Dennis Hopper
Elizabeth Hurley
Adam Goldberg

Ron Howard



Time: 122 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy/Romance

The reason Ron Howard's films are popular, but ultimately won't be remembered, is because he refuses to take chances, to uncover his dark side. Maybe he doesn't have one, and neither does this film, which is why THE TRUMAN SHOW, which sort of covers the same ground, is ultimately the better movie...though not by much. The comparisons are somewhat unfounded because Ed willingly becomes a media pawn, initially embracing fame and fortune. Truman has no idea that his entire life has been constructed for the amusement of others. However, the concepts are similar enough. They both fight back against the establishment after discovering a life under the microscope may have its' advantages, but anonymity is the greatest perk on the planet. The films' greatly diverge from there. Ed wants his old life back, Truman wants control of his. Though McConaughey is better looking than Carrey, Carrey's performance blows Matt's away. There's just an edge to TRUMAN that makes it far more compelling fare than ED.

However, EDTV isn't a bad movie. In fact, it has some wonderfully funny moments, but it depends on this one concept to carry you through the film and after the first hour it gets kind of old. Ed is too stupid and dorky to be truly interesting, though the film tries to convince you that that's why everyone's watching. To Ed, this offer is just a fluke, a way to make some money, maybe get a little fame, and help his family jump up a notch on the food chain. Of course, things start to go haywire almost immediately, making his life miserable and the whole world unable to turn away. Cynthia, played by Ellen Degeneres, knew her concept would work. She knew Ed was the man who was going to make all of her network dreams come true. The more skeletons revealed from Ed's closet, the higher the ratings go. Who knew white trash America could be so interesting?

Everyone in his family is initially excited about being on TV, but it soon becomes a horrible burden as their dirty laundry gets projected into everyone else's living room. Shari (Jenna Elfman) is madly in love with Ed, but she just can't take the constant exposure and disappears after being completely embarrassed on national TV. Ed doesn't know what to do as the initial 2 week contract continues to be extended due to his popularity. What started as a lark is now a burden. His family turns on him, he's lost the love of his life and there's nothing he can do about it. If he refuses to continue and lead a normal life, the network will bury him. He learns the price of fame and the cost is just too high. How deep. In the end, with the help of Shari and his family, they figure out a way to keep the cash while getting the network to pull the plug. It's not exactly original, but it was fun to watch Rob Reiner, the head of the network, squirm.

EDTV doesn't really have much to say. It tries to be a condemnation on the pursuit of fame in our culture, but the story's too simple to pull that off. Ultimately, it's a fun little movie with a cute love story and some decent performances – mainly from Degeneres, Harrelson and Landau, who has some of the films best lines. The only parts I really disliked was the filler of them showing people in various cities across the country watching the program. Who cares? If the network claims it's a hit, I believe them. I don't need to see useless shots of people in Milwaukee reacting to the program. They should have used that time to flesh out the story more. ED's not a film that will hurt any of the principles careers, but it definitely isn't going to help them either. If you're looking for something light and entertaining, than you'll probably enjoy EDTV. You won't really remember much of it when it's over, but they can't all be home runs.

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