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Review by Matthew Leary (3/99)

Release: 1999, Universal
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Harrelson, Martin Landau, Sally Kirkland, Rob Reiner, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Hurley
Director: Ron Howard
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language, nudity
Genre: Comedy

Fame. Be careful. It's out there...


A video store clerk named Ed Pekurny (McConaughey) agrees to have his life taped around the clock and broadcasted on a television network.


With her subtly sarcastic observations and always impeccable comedic timing, Ellen DeGeneres is her usually funny self, and provides the best moments in an otherwise sad film. It's hard for me to believe that Ron Howard was a part of this.


I went into the screening of EDtv expecting garbage, and unfortunately, the movie did little to dispute the notion. Like many others, I went in with the preconception that it was a comedic knockoff of The Truman Show. The truth is, EDtv is all of the gimmick of The Truman Show with none of the story, feeling, or purpose. Even in the days of the previews, I would scoff, "This Ed character is an idiot. Reminds me a lot of Woody Harrelson's character on Cheers." Big surprise, then, that when I go to see the movie, I find Woody Harrelson is actually playing Ed's brother. Good God, how is that for predictability?

Still, I sat through this movie trying to get something from it. The problem is that it's only a marginal improvement over the Jerry Springer movie Ringmaster. The focus of EDtv is society's obsession with watching the 24-hour life of a loser. In The Truman Show, the constant broadcasting of Truman Burbank's life was merely the stage that set the story for how Truman grows as a person and eventually comes to terms with his reality and his life. Any such explorations are totally lost on EDtv. Ed is simply a moron with little about his character that makes him interesting to watch. There's nothing deep about him, there's nothing fascinating about the way he lives, and he's not particularly amusing either. On top of that, Matthew McConaughey does nothing to make Ed interesting in the least. Even Beavis and Butt-head have more dimension.

EDtv is a virtual peep show into a common man's life. Would society really be that taken with Ed? Maybe. But do we really need an affirmation of that?

Rating: 3 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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