Review

EDtv review

Published at: March 25, 1999, 5:22 a.m. CST by headgeek

Well folks, I’m gonna leave the stargazing awestruck wonder to my good friend Quint and Peter Blood in their coverage of EDtv... and instead I’m going to focus on the film, and my experience with it.

First off, the event was every bit as magical as I said it would be in my open letter to Ron Howard. The audience packed the Paramount, and exuded love and admiration like no tomorrow. The energy and the thunderous BOOM of applause was... well louder and more powerful than I have ever heard at the Paramount.

The entire evening I continually had people coming up to me to thank me for the event at the Paramount. I want to clarify that.

First off.... There would have been no SXSW screening of EDtv had it not been for the efforts of Matthew McConaughey, Lewis Black, Nancy Schaffer and the other SXSW people, and Rebecca Campbell from the Austin Film Society... Oh... and Richard Linklater. Then it also fell upon Ron Howard and his people at IMAGINE and UNIVERSAL. All I was in this event was a short stop that caught the bunt and threw it to First Base. I didn’t create the game, I didn’t own the field and absolutely none of the equipment was mine. I was just one of the players.

Folks... I wrote the open letter to Ron, not because I wanted ‘better equipment’ for the Paramount... I didn’t. For me, that issue has always been... well secondary. The PARAMOUNT itself was what I was speaking out for. I couldn’t stand the concept of someone snubbing and belittling that magic old dame.

I was happy to be there. From the reviews I had been getting from Screenings all over the country I had the idea that this was definately ‘an audience’ film. And by golly, it sure as hell was.

Nearly everyone in the cast was there at the screening except for Rob Reiner and Jenna Elfman, but just about everyone else was there. I wasn’t sitting anywhere near them though... I had my regular 4th row center seat. Sitting with celebs is overrated in my opinion, because you tend to watch them instead of the movie.

First off... If you LOVED “THE TRUMAN SHOW” and you feel it was slighted all the way across the board, and it was the greatest film of last year, and Ron Howard is a hack, and that this EDtv is a piece of shit ripoff.... Well, perhaps you shouldn’t go see the movie. For me, the two movies are, like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE THIN RED LINE, in the same genre, but with completely different takes on the subject matter.

THE TRUMAN SHOW was a drama with comedic moments, this is a comedy with dramatic moments. THE TRUMAN SHOW was a movie about a man who’s entire life was manipulated and twisted by a director conducting an arty experiment/hit television show where the star doesn’t know he’s on television, where all his friends and family are actors and nothing save his own emotions are true. It’s a movie about paranoia and the ultimate ‘Big Brother’ nightmare.

EDtv is a very different film. It examines what it is to choose to be famous. Ed decides to give up his privacy and the privacy of his friends and family with the benefit being fame and fortune. Sure it goes wrong.... There’s always a bad side.

I’ve had the local Austin gossip columnist say a few things about me I wish he hadn’t said. Hell, TALK BACK can be a bit annoying, as well as being funny as hell. Being recognized at restaurants, movie theaters, book stores, etc... Is both a wonderful sensation and amazingly bizarre and also sometimes troublesome.

I have had a psycho con man try to, and succeed to a certain degree, con my friends and I.... BUT I survived... and I thrived. Lines were not irrevocably crossed. I don’t have people camping on my doorstep, the tabloids don’t have helicopters circling my house. My girlfriend is not tailed. And my life is private, at least as much as I keep it.

But here... In EDtv, we are watching a man give up every moment save for when he’s on the john taking a crap-a-roni. The cameras stalking his every moment. And then a thought hit me.

You know those live streaming-video cams? Well, the company that puts those out approached me about a year ago with setting my house up so that there would be a constant stream of video from my world to yours. I, at the time felt that this was the most ludricous thing I’d ever heard of.

Why on Earth would someone do that? I decided not to because... well, I didn’t want to subject the human race to the horrors of my private life. I didn’t want to be a Zoo speciman. Typing is not an exciting activity. Watching Harry watching a movie would SUCK!

I really really enjoyed EDtv, and if there is a fault with the film it is that it’s so damn entertaining that some nimrod exec is going to do this for real. Sure at the beginning they show us the beginnings of Ed’s tedious perusing of his own clothed ass, but... What about Ed putting on his shoes, Ed microwaving popcorn... Ed sick. Ed sleeping all day. Ed watching primetime or Burt Reynolds movies?

Of course this wasn’t the movie that Ron was making. Instead he was making a COMEDY. And as such, it didn’t need to strickly adhere to the world of reality.

Ok, now that I’ve said it’s so different from THE TRUMAN SHOW, how do the two compare?

Well, EDtv is far more entertaining. The acting feels natural, but then... it just feels like perfect casting all the way across the board. I loved THE TRUMAN SHOW, and Jim Carrey was fantastic... but really... you can’t compare. After EDtv, I found myself wondering how the films would be if Jim Carrey had been in EDtv, and Matthew had been in THE TRUMAN SHOW. It would be interesting... And I think both actors would have brought extra points to each others’ roles... but... Each are perfectly cast as ED and TRUMAN.

There is a part of me that feels that this may very well be Ron Howard’s best film. But to honestly say that, I’ll need to see the film at least 3 or 4 more times.

Afterwards the whole AICN crew went to a party that was... well... very fun. When I got home that night, I thought about writing everything up. Spend 250 to 750 words about how Elizabeth Hurley’s body filled and moved that pink dress of hers. But... I decided to let the intoxication (both mental and alcohol induced) wear off. I’ve been pushing the film around for the last week or so and.... ya know... No matter how I cut it, EDtv is a damn fun movie.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did....

Readers Talkback

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  • March 25, 1999, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Good review

    by ricky

    Damn I wanted to be at the paramount so bad at the showing! I tried but it's just a bit too far from Venezuela, I smelled ripoff too looking at the commercials, but hey, if it's that good? who cares? we need good films, no matter how.

  • March 25, 1999, 8:13 a.m. CST

    EdTV is, sadly, an american rip-off of a canadian film

    by D.E.T.9.

    Yes, indeed, and we from people Quebec are truly disappointed that you americans would steal an idea we previousled used. "Louis 19, roi des ondes" is called the movie, and it covers THE SAME subject as yours (EdTV), except that it was released in 1995! Didn't you say somewhere that the regular amount time for movie-making was going around three years? I don't like this, truly... Worse, someone close to me even pretends that "EdTV" is actually based on "Louis 19, roi des ondes" WITH the blessing of the original author (or maybe the producers). How much money did Ron Howard put to buy our creators? Of course I'm not mad against americans, or even angry as I write this message. Most of it is ironic, but loyal to the facts. I just wanted to warn you against a strange lack of true originality that is slowly overcoming Hollywood... my opinion in this case, but why do I suddendly have more taste for Chezh-and-polonian movies than for oh-I've-seen- such-a-movie-elsewhere american-made ones? Yeah, you're right, that is, in part, because of Ravenous (such a great movie deserves a review!). :-) - Danest El'o Tianmy

  • March 25, 1999, 11:25 a.m. CST

    It's called a remake. Deal with it.

    by Pope Buck 1

    Yes, it's an actual "remake" of a movie that maybe three people saw. Do you think it would have been hard for Ron Howard and company to have mounted an actual "ripoff" of the Canadian script and not given any credit? I think it would probably have been damn easy, especially with the array of high-powered legal talent the studios have on hand. But they chose to make a NEW version of the same story, while giving full credit to the original filmmakers. Considering the original (to judge by the title) was in French, wouldn't you say that an English-language remake was at least a practical idea? Granted, I'm not saying all English remakes of foreign-language hits are warranted -- "Little Indian, Big City" was a black mark on the history of filmmaking. But you can at least see why they want to do it.

  • March 25, 1999, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Once again...

    by Pope Buck 1

    Once again I point out that the filmmakers have been 100% upfront with the fact that "EdTV" is a remake of the Quebecois film mentioned above. There is no cover-up, no attempt to hide the "obvious influence" of the Canadian film.

  • March 25, 1999, 4:06 p.m. CST

    You're right Harry

    by wonder

    Harry, I saw this movie two weeks ago and I loved it. This is a great movie and I would recomend seeing it when it opens. Unless you are getting married. Then maybe you should wait on that one. :-)

  • March 25, 1999, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Me voici! Mouhahaha!!!

    by Bachywak

    Salutations

  • March 25, 1999, 11:24 p.m. CST

    Good Morning...

    by CoachBob

    ...and in case I don't see you, Good Afternoon, etc. This is my first talkback, and I wish I had something more profound to say, but I just felt that it was worth mentioning something. Although EdTV is a remake, and on the heels of the similarly themed The Truman Show (and, for that matter, Pleasantville), when I saw the review and hype of EdTV, the first thing I thought of was "Real Life", the Albert Brooks comedy. "Real Life" followed Albert (playing himself, kind of) as a documentary filmmaker tracking every move of a "normal" family (led by a pre-wigged Charles Grodin). Sound familiar? "Real Life" itself was a skewed version of a famous PBS Special ("An American Family"?). Remember: if it's done by Hollywood, it's been done already. Twice. I am looking forward to EdTV, though, because of its pedigree and idea. (I was wondering, though- can anyone tell me the last good Ganz/Mandel script?) I am a big fan of the site and talkbacks, and hope I didn't waste too much time. Back to the locker room...

  • March 26, 1999, 2:02 a.m. CST

    Wish i was there

    by Nihilon

    Man if I'D been there i woulda been sittin right behind Ms. Liz Hurley and watchin HER the whole time... and I'd stay in my seat once the film ended so i could watch her sweet ass as she walked out of the theatre.... fuck EdTV i want LizTV babee

  • March 26, 1999, 4:10 a.m. CST

    PARENTHOOD!!!

    by Martin Q Blank

    I don't know about the rest of you but for some reason Parenthood (dir Howard, scr Bababablo Mandel and... you know who I mean) REALLY works for me. I just love it. And the bit where Jason Robards has the final conversation with his black sheep son gets me every time. Anyone agree?

  • March 26, 1999, 7:30 a.m. CST

    "Twilight Zone"

    by smilin'jackruby

    I actually missed the "EdTV" screening at SXSW as I was across town at a showing of Jeff Abugov's "The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human," which was funny and already has distribution. Those of you looking for a strange romantic comedy with Carmen Electra and Mackenzie Astin with Nature Channel-style voiceover from David Hyde Pierce, your dreams have come true. As for "EdTV," I was wondering if anyone remembers an episode of "The Twilight Zone," the newer incarnation (80s) where a man (could have been Joe Mantegna) finds out that he has been on television all this time? Maybe I'm on crack, but I think I remember that. I, genuinely, have no interest in "EdTV" whatsoever (no offense meant to any who do), so this is the end of this posting.

  • March 26, 1999, 10:42 a.m. CST

    "EDtv" **

    by Fixxxer

    Well, my basic problem with "EDtv" is that I told a friend of mine that I could probably tell him exactly what happened in "EDtv" before I even saw it, and I was mostly right. The only thing I couldn't have predicted would be the absolutely mind-numbingly dumb nature of the ending, not to mention that Ellen DeGeneres would turn out to be the film's strongest asset. After "The Truman Show," "EDtv" does seem derivative and obvious, and perhaps that's not the fault of the filmmakers but the fault of bad timing. One could argue that "EDtv" has some valuable comments to make about television, but I didn't buy it, nor did I find it nearly as intriguing. Plus, many of the comedic developments in the script by Lowell anz and Babloo Mandel are downright silly (yes, comedy is supposed to be silly, but I mean silly in the unbelievable, head-scratching way). The culmination of the supposed sex scene between McConaughey and Elizabeth Hurley would be a prime example of comedy gone horribly wrong; it wasn't funny, it was just stupid. I give "EDtv" 2 stars, which roughly translates to a rating of 5 on the Aint-it-Cool-News rating system.

  • March 26, 1999, 10:43 a.m. CST

    "EDtv" **

    by Fixxxer

    Well, my basic problem with "EDtv" is that I told a friend of mine that I could probably tell him exactly what happened in "EDtv" before I even saw it, and I was mostly right. The only thing I couldn't have predicted would be the absolutely mind-numbingly dumb nature of the ending, not to mention that Ellen DeGeneres would turn out to be the film's strongest asset. After "The Truman Show," "EDtv" does seem derivative and obvious, and perhaps that's not the fault of the filmmakers but the fault of bad timing. One could argue that "EDtv" has some valuable comments to make about television, but I didn't buy it, nor did I find it nearly as intriguing. Plus, many of the comedic developments in the script by Lowell anz and Babloo Mandel are downright silly (yes, comedy is supposed to be silly, but I mean silly in the unbelievable, head-scratching way). The culmination of the supposed sex scene between McConaughey and Elizabeth Hurley would be a prime example of comedy gone horribly wrong; it wasn't funny, it was just stupid. I give "EDtv" 2 stars, which roughly translates to a rating of 5 on the Aint-it-Cool-News rating system.

  • March 26, 1999, 6:10 p.m. CST

    What?

    by ToutSuite

    What the hell kind of review was that? You didn't mention ONE performance in the film, one aspect of the story, one aspect of filmmaking... as a matter of fact, your entire review was devoted to your thoughts on the Paramount theatre, WebCams, and how Jim Carrey would have been in the movie? Did you even watch the movie?

  • March 27, 1999, 6:40 a.m. CST

    DeadTV

    by Oscar Mayer

    I saw EdTV at an advance screening two weekends ago, and I was really disappointed in it. The issues it brought up about fame, etc., was not too interesting. I think all the actors in the film do a great job, and even Ron Howard did a great job directing.. It's just that the story doesn't make you laugh, much less care for the characters... sigh..

  • March 27, 1999, 7:05 p.m. CST

    Bachywak - Voyez ici!!!!

    by PDaddy

    Cher Frenchy - Je crois que vous etes tres bete. Parlez anglais seulement ici. Les frenchies sont toujours perdu les guerres. Les Etats Unis toujours gagnent!!!! EU !!! EU !!! EU!!!! Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!

  • March 28, 1999, 10:55 a.m. CST

    by Trav

    I must say that I truly enjoyed EdTV. I thought the ending was a little unlikely, but I really enjoyed the performances of Matt McConaughey and Jenna Elfman. Matt did a fine job of acting like someone we all would know but being charming enough to see why viewers would tune in to watch his everyday life. I didn't expect anything nearly as moving as The Truman Show and I get tired of people lumping the two together. However, I found EdTV to be exactly what I expected. A light highly entertaining comedy on Ed's five minutes of fame. No more, no less.

  • March 29, 1999, 9:01 p.m. CST

    ToutSuite

    by Everett Robert

    Most of Harry's reviews don't tlak about plot, performance, etc becasue those aren't the kind of reviews harry writes. I perfer to think of he's writing as more observations on movies rather then reviews

  • March 30, 1999, 9:21 p.m. CST

    "comedies"

    by drugstore83

    Quick question: Aren't "comedies" the type of movie that are supposed to make you laugh? The most diaappointing aspect of this movie is that Woody "Look at me, i wear hemp clothes" Harrelson wasn't as shitty as he always is.

  • March 31, 1999, 9:48 a.m. CST

    Twilight Zone

    by vverduzco

    When the Truman Show came out, I kept telling everyone that I had seen this premise before. I couldn't remember if it had been on an old episode of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, but no one knew what i was talking about. Well I'm glad to see that at least one ohter person has the same delusions as me. But if it is true I would appreciate any elaborations.

  • April 1, 1999, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Hi, my name is Harry and I'm an alcoholic

    by Tall_Boy

    glad you're having fun, dude, but why is it nearly every single time you post about your life it always involves alcohol? C'mon, dude, admit you have a problem, its the frist step to recovery. . .

  • April 9, 1999, 8:18 p.m. CST

    Magret du canard!

    by Andy

    Jambone, Frommage! Au jus! Sorry, that's all the French I know. Gets me by, though.

  • April 10, 1999, 2:15 a.m. CST

    ED Rules!

    by Tangent Z

    I thoroughly enjoyed EDtv. One fine film and I recommended it for everyone. Funny, exciting, and it has something to say. BTW, I was disappointed in The Truman Show. Carey weakest performance - I do refuse to watch any Ace Ventrua movies as they seem so stooop. But I loved Mask and Lair, Lair, but the man disappoints in Truman. I would love to see Louis 19. I can read subtitles. I hope it comes to Austin. Peace, Tangent Z

  • April 15, 1999, 6:18 a.m. CST

    Lair Lair

    by Papi at Work

    Lair Lair. Hummmm. Oh yeah, isn't that the new Lion King sequel? I didn't know Jim had a part in that.

  • April 28, 1999, 6:11 a.m. CST

    Re-makes...

    by Jonte

    I thinnk re-makes were invented just because americans are a lazy bunch who cant read. Y'all should have to suffer, like the rest of the world, reading sub-titles everytime you go to the movies!

  • July 14, 2006, 6:53 p.m. CST

    Omlette du frommage!

    by Wolfpack