Starring Matthew McConaughy, Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman,
Rob Reiner, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Landau
Screenplay by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandell
based on Michael Poulette's film Louis XIX: King of the Airwaves
Directed by Ron Howard
Definite date flick
PG-13, 113 Minutes]
three to feature real life people in television show environments
shares the same themes with the previous pair. The opening montage
and some of the camera shots will remind you of one of the other
flicks. If you're heavy duty into comparison, you'll catch 'em easily.
Since Cranky doesn't compare, that will be the last mention of The
Truman Show or Pleasantville.
is quick to dismiss PBS' An American Family as source for
its story, us ancient relics can't ignore that. To writers Lowell
Ganz and Babaloo Mandell goes a nod to applying the current
media environment to the idea, and running for the hills when it
strikes gold. Which, for the most part, it does. Fool's gold, mostly,
but even those fake nuggets made prospectors happy way back when.
EDtv is amiable enough, has enough stars and is sometimes rudely
funny enough that it ranks higher than the average date flick. Even
so, expect bigger returns on video.
From a small
San Francisco cable channel, True TV, comes the "idea" of following
a real person around full time. Every moment of his life, save the
occasional bathroom break, on the small screen. His hopes, his fears,
his love life (especially his love life, think the execs) play out
as a kind of real life soap opera. In theory. If it works bossman
Jim Whitaker (Rob Reiner) will take the credit for the idea
which came from lackey Cynthia Topping (Ellen DeGeneres).
choice is Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughy), who doesn't want
to be on TV in the first place. He's got a good job as a video clerk.
He's poor and not too bright, loves his mom Jeanette (Sally Kirkland)
and step-dad (Martin Landau) and carries an unexpressed crush
on his brother's girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman). Simply,
Ed is well intentioned and All American. Brother Ray (Woody Harrelson)
on the other hand is a jock who wants Ed to take the gig to guarantee
a bank loan so that Ray can open his own gym. Sister Marcia wants
good things to happen for her no-talent lounge lizard boyfriend.
Ed just kinda shrugs his shoulders, signs the contract without reading
it (like I said, not too bright) and goes along.
Ron Howard spends lots of time showing us the reactions of the
viewing audience, whether coeds in college, gay couples in big cities,
African-American middle class or blue collar bowlers who think the
entire deal is rigged. By doing so, we the audience are symbolically
eavesdropping, just as sure as these "real viewers" are. Cranky
detects a little film student thinking sneaking in here. That's
put to rest quickly as the world's introduction to Ed finds him,
at seven in the morning, doing what comes naturally to men at seven
in the morning. I can say that 'cuz I know you don't believe that
good ol' Opie Cunningham, All-American boy for his entire life,
would put such a thing on screen.
Sure, the idea
of seeing 30-foot toenails being clipped on the big screen isn't
appetizing, but EDtv avoids down and dirty bathroom humor,
while paying close attention to particular biological, um, reactions.
As Ed gets famous, the hangers on make a beeline for the boy, most
noticeably a fuzzy pink sweater named Jill (Elizabeth Hurley)
and the deadbeat dad (Dennis Hopper) who ran off when Ed
of Hopper is where the usual "aw factor" kicks in. Howard tends
to deliver good family flicks with a real teary sentimental sequence
saved for the last third. In EDtv it is present, but target for
a gag which strips out the sentimentality. Good. As the months of
video stalking go on, EDtv generally reflects the media frenzy
that is always on hold, waiting for the next OJ or Monica to set
it off. A good barometer being the Tonight Show, Jay Leno
makes a number of appearances to comment on the action - just as
if he had been watching the events unfold as in real life.
for talking head commentators Arianna Huffington, Harry Shearer,
George Plimpton, Michael Moore (ain't that ironic casting),
talk show host/ess RuPaul and, if my eyes aren't deceiving
me, a teeny tiny cameo by Jenny McCarthy.
Fake fame and
how it affects everybody is at the core of EDtv. From the
hair plugs installed by the program's line director Ken (Clint
Howard) to the book deal Ray lands; Shari's flight into exile
in a different city; Cynthia's attempt to get in shape so she'll
look good reaping the publicity rewards; and the personal secret
of a cast member whose revelation tops off the flick, EDtv
keeps everyone entertained nicely.
will note that, according to the advertising banners running at
the bottom of the EDtv broadcast, there are only three commercial
city blocks in all of San Francisco. It must be some kind of in-joke.
If anyone figures it out, let me know.
a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able
to set his own price to EDtv, he would have paid...
as it is, there are subtle references that those familiar with DeGeneres'
orientation will read more meaning in to some of her lines. Cranky
took a date (yea!) To EDtv. He put the rating at 6.50. She at an
even 6, so we split the baby. Go. Enjoy.