Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie Review: EdTV

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny look at our celebrity culture
Cons: Not all the jokes hit the target; not quite as good as similar films
The Bottom Line:
EdTV is good
Suffers by comparison
To The Truman Show

Watch Ed on TV

When EdTV came out a decade ago, I didn't go see it.  I had seen The Truman Show nine months before, loved it, and figured that EdTV couldn't compare.  But I was always curious about it, so I watched it on TV recently.  While the other is better, this movie is good in its own right.

The TruTV Network (and hasn't some cable company renamed themselves that in the last few years?) has been hurting in the ratings.  So executive Cynthia Topping (Ellen DeGeneres) has come up with a fresh new idea.  They will film one person all day every day and let his life unfold on TV.

The lucky victim, I mean subject, is Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey).  His brother Ray (Woody Harrelson) is actually the most excited about the prospect, or really the money behind it.  But Ed begins to realize just how hard his new lack of privacy is, especially when he tries to start a relationship with Shari (Jenna Elfman).  As things in his family get more complicated, Ed begins to wish for a way out.  Can he find one?

This movie is a comedy, and it succeeds most of the time.  I found quite a few scenes funny, especially the reactions of people Ed would meet while living his life.  The talk shows and Jay Leno bits were pretty good as well.  Some of the comedy fell flat because it fell into the awkward humor area that makes me cringe instead of laugh.

The movie sets out to be a satire, shining a light on our celebrity obsessed culture.  While it isn't as deep as some people claim it to be (The Truman Show is better), there are some moments that really do make you stop and think.  For me, it was the polls newspapers were taking about Ed's love life.

Speaking of his love life, there are a couple of scenes that push the boundaries of the PG-13 ratings, although they do stop before things get into R territory.

I was pulled into the film by the sympathetic characters.  I liked Ed from the moment we met him, and Shari is perfect for him (no matter what those polls said).  Ed's family was at times sympathetic and annoying, but that helped propel the plot.

This isn't a movie full of surprises, and I saw most of the plot points coming.  That doesn't mean I wasn't ready to stand up and cheer at the ending.

The movie sports an impressive cast.  Beside the ones already mentioned, we've got Martin Landau, Rob Reiner, and Dennis Hopper, not to mention blink and you miss them cameos.  Every person did great in their various roles.  I am a fan of Jenna Elfman, so it was nice to see her in the role of leading lady.

When two competing movies with the same theme come out, comparison is inevitable.  While EdTV is the lesser of the movies, it is still enjoyable entertainment.

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