Wednesday 7 May 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 Review – 086 Ed

Ever since man kind first stood up on two feet, Hollywood b-list producers have known that in movies; monkeys = fun. But they aren't just fun. They are also quite a gamble, in the way Lindsay Lohan is a gamble – they just don't care about schedules. Which may be why this movie abandoned the idea of a chimp playing baseball in favor of a man in a chimp suit playing baseball. For those yet unaware, tonight we shall be reviewing the classic baseball caper...

Gonna open with this bad boy, because we know it had to end like this eventually. Might as well defuse that situation right away. 
Ed (1996)

When I first saw Ed on the B100 list, I thought: 'Weird. I remember the Harrelson/McConaughey movie as being, if not hilarious, at least somewhat decent. Too bad it had to ends its days on this list'. Only later, of course, I realized I wasn't to find a small cooling somewhat decent oasis in EdTV, in the midst of the vast if not endless desert of dried up corpses of movies that the IMBd Bottom 100 list is. This movie features a dude in a somewhat convincing chimp suit playing baseball along side then rising star Matt LeBlanc. I'm going to go ahead and assume you'll know who he is by name, because his name has flashed before your eyes many many times, I am sure, in the opening credits of, arguably the funniest and/or most successful sitcom of all time. I'm not gonna get into a whole thing here regarding Friends, because in terms of sheer profit and syndication, nobody can convincingly argue that it flopped. I watched it religiously myself, and I still watch episodes now and again (it always cheers up my terminally cancerous grandma, so if nothing else I gotta respect it for that). Some seasons were absolutely comedy gold (2-5 if you ask me) with the rest ranging from pretty hilarious and all the way down to still-better-than-Cheers. Anyway, Matt LeBlanc was, as you have no doubt now realized, Joey Tribbiani. By many, if not all, standards a decent looking fella in his own right. Why the hell they decided to apply a weirdly brown tan to his physique for this movie, I can't for the life of me figure out. Just one of many decisions only too easily questionable.

Coop is out in a classic drop something get knocked out by opening car door gag. Ed takes over and is capable of operating a pick up truck admirably. 

Glancing over director Bill Couturié's dossier, it appears this was the only feature film he ever directed, the rest of his body of work consisting of documentaries or the slightly less awesome TV Movie Documentaries. You know the kind, surely. It has to do with some slightly shocking piece of history, so there are plenty of opportunities for perceived cliffhangers and dramatic recreations. I don't know why, but writing that last sentence made me think of an absolutely abysmal TV Movie Doc I watched the other day (the other day possibly ranging from last month up to several years hence) about serial killers as part of an ongoing serial killer movie/docu motif we've got around here. Come to think of it, I do know why writing that sentence made me think of it: like that docu, this movie Ed also sucks. Anyway, going from documentaries to making a movie about an ape playing baseball, is kind of a big step, I guess. Probably not one Mr. Couturié should've taken unsupervised. But I digress. He digressed too, and on our hands we have Ed. An amusing thing about Ed is, that nowhere is anybody credited with actually playing the chimp. Possibly to try and lend the whole thing an air of authenticity. Making the viewer question reality as we know it. “It doesn't look like an ape. But perhaps it IS? I can't even tell where Ed ends and my own life begins anymore!”. That sort of thing. Admittedly, at first I was thinking they may just have gone and gotten a trained ape for this. But as soon as I caught a proper glance at that chimp, there wasn't any wiggle room in the confines of that theory anymore. It wasn't a real monkey by any stretch of my imagination. And from that point on, things did not improve.

Jack Warden in his declining years. He died shortly after this movie... of shame [citation needed]

The plot of the movie follows a pretty straight forward, and thus conventional, storyline. Country boy practices his love of baseball in between milking cows and masturbation (both euphemisms) at the family farm, only to be signed on for a local minor league team. Because the owners are money hungry sons of bitches, a little something special is brought on to bring in some extra patronage at games. Enter famed Yankee Mickey Mantle's ape. Why do you keep saying ape, when monkey is a cooler word? Well, I'm sure a few of my more adept readers will already know, but for those of you still kept in the dark, and believe me it's a common mistake, monkeys and apes differ in many ways. But the main one, and the one you'll most likely be able to determine right off the proverbial bat is, that monkeys have tails whereas apes do not. It's pretty much that simple. Humans are, as you will undoubtedly have figured out by now, a type of ape, along with chimps, gorillas, baboons and orangutans. No tail, see. Just a bare stumpy ass to sit on. Both monkeys and apes are, of course, part of the larger categorization; primates. But I'm allowing my vast and intricate knowledge of biology and zoology to lead me off track. I was discussing the plot of Ed. Or was I done? No. Sadly, I wasn't. Ed the ape is, of course, super awesome at baseball. And because of reasons (notice how I left it unspecific and vague? That's because there aren't really any reasons except because this movie needs it) Ed gets to stay with Matt LeBlanc's character, amusingly named Jack 'Deuce' Cooper, affectionately referred to as Deuce, or what we hear everytime: the phonetically similar douche. To top it all off, there are the usual rag tag bunch of baseball players that seem to fledge out most comedy sports teams in movies. And of course we also have the love interest (of Cooper thankfully), a golden hearted downstairs neighbor who only wishes for Coop to overcome his crippling game time fear and become the star he was born to be.

This guy was knocked out. His facial expression gives you an idea of what this movie has to offer. 

The plot advances in a manner so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness. We are treated to several smaller montages, one of which includes the love interest's daughter and Ed the Ape doing what I imagine was supposed to be hilarious shenanigans in Coop's apartment. You see, Coop wants to take neighbor woman on a date, and to show how responsible he is as an adult, he leaves Ed in charge of babysitting. Predictably, in the wake of this decision, chaos ensures because, it turns out, a chimp despite athletic prowess, equals a 10 year old human when it comes to creating chaos. It's all taken in stride, of course, because Coop really only has himself to blame. Besides which, having Ed (whose full name is Ed fucking Sullivan (without the fucking part. I added that, because it was so unbelievable I had to toss in an expletive for effect)) on as team mascot made all the players who previously sucked play extremely well. Which is precisely why the owner's son, who is the antagonist of sorts, sells Ed to another team. Because money in hand is better than a championship. And because it helps the movie by adding an actual problem that needs to be dealt with. Because anything else would be too easy, Ed, when sold, isn't just asked to leave or transported by bus like he was at the beginning of the movie. No, he's kidnapped and caged by thugs. Coop takes it upon himself to check up on Ed, and finds to everyone's surprise, that the thugs are totally tormenting poor Ed, in ways no ape, monkey and/or human, with the possible exception of Ken Hamm, should be subjected to: Putting a clown suit on him and electrocuting his cage. Why is this even happening? It just doesn't make sense for another ball club to pay big money for an ape, and then having two fuckwits electrocuting it. Coop steps up, saves Ed, hugs it out with his bff (also Ed) and helps Ed escape through a window into what is apparently the back of a frozen chocolate covered banana truck, that's just about to depart. What are the odds?

A frightened looking neighbor daughter is trying to teach Coop how to read. Or something else. I don't remember the context here. 

The grand finale is strictly by the book. Coop rushes after the truck, gets a by now frozen Ed out, and they rush to the hospital. Tender moments play out as Coop laments Ed's trials and tribulations. Neighbor chick w/ daughter arrives, and convinces Coop to go play the championship game while they sit with Ed. Tears are shed. Mostly by me, because I want this to be over so badly. And my wish is about to be granted. Coop plays, albeit poorly, until Ed makes a miraculous recovery, and him plus neighbor chick plus daughter storm the stands at the game and boosts Coop's morale tenfold. The championship game is won, a new relationship started and a lifetime friendship between Coop and an ape are forged. It's a miracle! Also a miracle that I managed to remain awake during all 94 gruelling minutes.

Bill Cobbs reflects me watching this movie pretty well. Bored to tears. At least he got paid. I only get the satisfaction of writing this caption. 

So the movie is obviously made right when the Friends folks were hot stuff. Perhaps LeBlanc had an idea that this would be his breakaway role, taking him from the little screen to the silvery one. I have a really hard time believing that he came to work every day, on Ed, thinking: this is good for my career. Most of the people in this flick were b-listers at best, with the possible exception of Jack Warden. A time honored veteran actor, best known (by me) for his portrayal of Juror #7 (the sports enthusiast) in 12 Angry Men – a movie that I never tire of watching. Why he is in this, I don't know. I suppose his golden years had him select his projects less carefully. Interestingly he is the only character, save perhaps other veteran Bill Cobbs, who bring any sort of integrity to their portrayals of head and assistant coach respectively. It doesn't take much to stand out in this crowd, but still. 

This annoying guy. Played bit parts in both Friends and the spin off Joey. He is truly annoying, and I had a feeling he was going to be in another B100 film too, but I can't seem to locate it. Perhaps I'll get another shot some day. 

Even a kid would probably be frowning at this movie. It never really got even a small silent chuckle from me, and while I may be overly judgemental and cynical when it comes to humor in pop culture, a few gags could've played out differently and been more effective. They weren't. This movie was rated so PG that even Mothers of America would find it tame and without panache. A movie involving a primate is a movie you know has a good chance of flopping. They might not have imagined things going this badly, and that the movie would land itself on the Bottom 100 list, where, years after, some annoying pretentious asshole would write 3 pages of snide comments and gleeful observations. But there we have it. Things don't always go the way we want, does it Precious?


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