1999; Rated PG-13; 122 Minutes
Matthew McConaughey: Ed Pekurny
Jenna Elfman: Shari
Woody Harrelson: Ray Pekurny
Sally Kirkland: Jeanette
Martin Landau: Al
Ellen DeGeneres: Cynthia Topping
Rob Reiner: Whitaker
Dennis Hopper: Hank
Elizabeth Hurley: Jill
Adam Goldberg: John
Produced by Brian
Grazer, Todd Hallowell, Ron Howard, Aldric La'Auli Porter,
Michel Roy, Richard Sadler and Louisa Velis; Directed
by Ron Howard; Screenwritten by Emile Gaudreault, Sylvie
Bouchard, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel
by DAVID KEYES
in "EDtv" is depicted as something exploitative, because
the people in society can be so dumb and ridiculous that
they think television audiences are interested in watching
their lives 24 hours a day. Thrown to our eyes is a man
named Ed Pekurney, played by Matthew McConaughey, whose
own lifestyle is intended by the screenplay to keep the
audiences entertained for the duration of two hours. Alas,
he comes off as a character that we have seen before, and
one that has no reason to live in front of the cameras.
The script wants to utilize the life of this character for
the sake of ratings, but maybe the writer should have realized
that, if people are colorless and dull, they have no lives
the idea has worked before, but only when there is something
refreshing about the material. One of the brilliant aspects
of last year's "The Truman Show" was the character himself,
who was frustrated and confused about what his life had
become. And one of the more interesting things about "Pleasantville"
was giving people of an old 1950s television show modern
personalities and ways of thinking. Here, however, the director
of "EDtv," Ron Howard, is at a loss with this dry script.
It is tone-deaf, obvious, fabricated, suspicious, boring,
predictable, and clueless when it comes to imagining a life
in front of TV cameras. Part of the reason lies in the intent
of the premise; it makes the mistake of giving Ed the knowledge
that he is being observed by the cameras. Sure, people would
like to be informed of when they are on camera, but don't
you think funnier things could happen if they were unaware
setup begins when we are introduced to the executives of
a failing network called "True TV." For two painful years,
they have watched their station crumble under the influence
of lousy entertainment and poor ratings. But suddenly, the
programming executive Cynthia Topping, played by Ellen DeGeneres,
steps up to the others with an idea that could possibly
give them the exposure they so desperately want. Why not
have a camera follow someone around for 24 hours so that
the public can watch parts of their life unfold unrehearsed
and unexpected? The network jumps on the idea and finds
their lab rat in a video store clerk named Ed Pekurney.
discusses the proposition with his family, and envisions
himself gaining tremendous fame. He sees the hungry fans,
the autographs, the world exposure, and all the media attention.
Without even thinking, he jumps at the proposition and agrees
to the network's demands.
bad. Not only does this experiment blow up in his face,
but in the lives of the people around him as well. His girlfriend
dumps him because there's no privacy in the bedroom. Suddenly,
long-lost family members show up at his door to swallow
some of the fame. Soon his entire life is a mess, and the
whole television audience knows it, too.
media has always been portrayed as a viscous force against
people in the movies, and "EDtv" is no exception. Here,
were given the executive Mr. Whitaker, a man so heartless
and shallow that ratings matter and people's lives don't.
Seeing the disaster created by 24-hour-a-day exposure of
Ed, however, Cynthia Topping provides some relief in this
shallow treatment of the anti-media theme. Seldom are there
characters in movies like this that care about people rather
than media popularity. Even though this is a woman who starts
out with the intention of degrading human life for television
ratings, she gradually sees the negative results and realizes
that network fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. With
that portrayal, the movie at least succeeds in some aspects.
assume that the writers were contemplating the premise after
seeing "The Truman Show." Critically and commercially, the
Jim Carrey vehicle was phenomenally successful, especially
for a summer filled with disastrous box-office blockbusters.
Does that factor alone determine "EDtv"s failure? I don't
think so. Some critics have said that the movie arrives
too late to succeed, while some have said otherwise. The
latter belief is more believable because "EDtv" and "The
Truman Show" are two completely different movies. The Peter
Weir picture wasn't about sex or macho men. It wasn't even
about ratings. It was about a real human personality, who
did not have the knowledge that he was being taped 24 hours
a day. Ron Howard's movie fails because these characters
know what is going on around them. And since they are aware
of the situation, we can easily predict how they'll react,
how others will respond, and how everyone will handle each
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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