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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.36%
Average: 23.6%
Pretty Bad: 8.99%
Total Crap: 5.62%

7 reviews, 47 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Weak cousin of 'The Truman Show.'"
2 stars

What did I want from 'Ed TV'? Well, let's see.

I wanted it to be The Truman Show's scrappier, funnier little brother. I wanted Matthew McConaughey to redeem himself after a string of bland roles (tick, tick, Matt ... you're on your fourteenth minute). I wanted Jenna Elfman to break out as a movie actress by being as charismatic and goofily endearing as she often is on Dharma & Greg. Most of all, I wanted Ron Howard to take a vacation from his usual hard-breathing Important Films and get back to his disreputable roots -- remember that guy, the one who gave us Michael Keaton in Night Shift and kick-started Tom Hanks' career in Splash?

With the exception of Elfman, who is the movie's saving grace, every item on my wish list remains unchecked. Ed TV isn't bad enough to get angry about, but it's a mundane and toothless satire -- a satire whose target, as I've said before, is so full of holes by now that it whistles in a strong wind. The media consumes everything! Privacy is dead! You're nobody unless you're on TV! This was flat beer even back in 1995, when To Die For told us the same things while congratulating us for being hip to the media. If we're hip to it, why do we need a movie to underline it?

Ed Pekurny (McConaughey), a 31-year-old video-store clerk, is chosen by the faltering NorthWest Broadcasting Channel to be the star of their new concept, "TrueTV" -- a 24-hour live feed of Ed's everyday activities (except bathroom stuff). The producers of Ed TV, a remake of the 1994 French-Canadian film Louis 19, le Roi des Ondes, have sworn their story is worlds apart from The Truman Show, but the only real difference is that Ed is on the air, aware. I'm not an admirer of Truman, but at least it had a streak of spooky paranoia. Ed TV has nothing except the predictable ways in which Ed's privacy is invaded and his life is trashed.

In brief, Truman appeared to be trying a metaphor for the uncertainty of life, whereas Ed TV seems to be all about the pains and problems of being a celebrity. Is that why Ron Howard and Matthew McConaughey were attracted to the project? Neither of them brings much to the party. McConaughey is a grinning blank, giving Ed hardly any personality or temperament; he's just a nice guy, and Ron Howard is in nice-guy mode here, too. Everything points to the banal humanistic message that love and family are more important than fame. They are. Right. Got it. Didn't need a movie to hammer it home. Howard even backs off from the logical extension of a fully televised life -- Ed having sex, which could've scored points off of the many live-feed sex web sites out there. Ron Howard seems like a smart and good-hearted man, but will he ever make a movie that truly matters?

Jenna Elfman keeps her head; her Shari, a UPS driver who goes out with Ed's oafish brother Ray (Woody Harrelson) before falling in love with Ed, is the center of sanity in this vortex. The writers, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, give her almost nothing to do, so Elfman has to pull a warm and funny character out of thin air. And Ellen DeGeneres, as a deadpan exec at the station, does wonders with what amounts to a series of reaction shots. There are many other reaction shots in the movie, of Ed's faithful fans, who are meant to be us; but we see them laughing hysterically at things we don't find funny, and the movie begins to feel like a lame sitcom in which the laughtrack echoes depressingly in a vacuum.

Ed TV also has the same false ending as The Truman Show -- the TV viewers (and we) are tweaked for being voyeurs, but then everyone applauds when Ed gains his freedom. (And no, that isn't a spoiler. If Ed didn't get his freedom, it would be a surprise.) Wouldn't the audience turn on Ed for rejecting them? Or get sick of him long before he left the airwaves? These media-evil movies coddle the audience, as if nothing exploitative would appear on TV if not for those immoral network execs.

Ron Howard must know it's more complex than that -- a chicken-egg scenario, the public's need for sensation and the media's financial need to fill the public's need -- but he has made yet another satire that pretends the enemy isn't us.

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originally posted: 01/12/07 16:06:50
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
9/11/09 the dork knight just enough jokes (Woody helps lots) and twists to make it worth a rent 4 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
1/13/07 Tiffany funny, got a great laugh. 4 stars
9/02/05 ES s'ok, doesn't go anywhere and the laughs are scarce but hardly terrible 3 stars
6/12/05 Elaine Loved MM in it 4 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Far better than the overpraised, unctuous "The Truman Show". 4 stars
4/19/03 Ubu the Ripper This is such a great flick. McConaghey and Elfman were fantastic. 5 stars
9/17/02 Phil M. Aficionado Makes its point with LOL humor and fine acting and directing. Good ending.Fun&witty filled 4 stars
1/08/02 Andrew Carden Unfunny, but Interesting To The Point To Overlook. 3 stars
4/16/01 LiL Fantastic, this comedy is one of the best. 5 stars
2/28/01 Chris Very Funny and down to Earth! 5 stars
11/03/00 Terrie Smith Enjoyable comedy; McConaughey makes the most of it. Good supporting cast. 4 stars
10/17/00 Jed Yes folks despite that ellen is in this. This movie is still good. 5 stars
8/15/00 Chickiepoo Mattie Mccrappy looks like he's anorexic and the others aint all that either. 1 stars
3/14/00 Bozo Hey, fax pax - your mom is a degenarate, not ellen. this movie was Ok at best 3 stars
3/10/00 David Rogers Way better than the Truman Show. Sorry Jim Carrey, just had to say it. 5 stars
10/18/99 The Bomb 69 extremely funny but true to life as well 5 stars
10/17/99 "JED" I never expected to be this good well maybe because its similar to the great TRUMAN SHOW 5 stars
9/24/99 Pamernilla This was a great flick! Well written and played out. 5 stars
9/17/99 strike Mildly entertaining in places, but ultimately not good. 2 stars
7/12/99 ken heine the cat scene was cool. 3 stars
6/16/99 David With targets so big and easy, why is this movie so light and soft? 2 stars
5/29/99 MRHOLLYWOOD !! Tried too hard. Ellen is great though. Wait till video. 3 stars
5/21/99 Fax Pax Ellen Degenerate sucked on TV and sucks even more on the big screen! 1 stars
5/08/99 BraveFan Wish it hadn't atttempted a "statement" - didn't need one/ Howard churns out the formula. 3 stars
4/27/99 Angie Soooo much better than the Truman Show AND funnier!! 5 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson A lot more than I expected, nice shout out to Eugene, OR 4 stars
4/14/99 Ami the Wonderbread hmm. still thinking about this one. 3 stars
4/08/99 Vinny H. SF audience loved it. Lotsa fun. A pisser. 5 stars
4/08/99 Big Jimmy why the hell was clint howard in this movie, what's with his fucking hair? 3 stars
4/07/99 Geoffrey T. Spaulding Funny ass fucking movie! I laughed my fucking ass off, GO SEE IT! 5 stars
4/07/99 Adam Carey Eh. 3 stars
4/05/99 Malbert Boring 1 stars
4/05/99 Stephanie Touching, surprising, thought it would be like "Truman" but it wasn't. 5 stars
4/02/99 Explorer It was very, very funny! I liked it better than the Truman show! 5 stars
4/02/99 Dirty Dave Capone Funny as shit, definately better than the truman show, I was in tears a few times 5 stars
3/31/99 Erin it sucked 1 stars
3/31/99 buddy I liked it alot...until the absurd ending. 4 stars
3/30/99 CM Affleck Nothing like Truman, its so much better. An interesting concept as well. 5 stars
3/30/99 Daddy Rich Very funny and a great overall plot. Well worth the money. 4 stars
3/29/99 Donna Many Funny Lines 5 stars
3/28/99 HeatherLadyBug "Don't believe the hype" pretty baaadd 1 stars
3/26/99 Shel Matthew McConauga Hey Hey Hey Alright Alright Alright rocks in this one. 5 stars
3/14/99 Ah Dooey I love Hawkboy's review! This movie rules! 5 stars
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  26-Mar-1999 (PG-13)


  20-May-1999 (M)

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