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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 1999 >> EDtv


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
March 1999
IMDB Name:
Edtv (1999)
Ron Howard
comedy, romance
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for sex-related situations, partial nudity and crude language.


For a movie like EDtv to work as a romance, the principals need to be real charmers. The audience must be right there with them and believe these are great people. Casting Jenna Elfman and Matthew McConaughey is cheating as far as I'm concerned. Elfman has been charming me for a while now as Dharma of "Dharma & Greg", and McConaughey (try typing that name three times fast) still gets points for being Palmer Joss in Contact. Here they have very little work to do because they have so much residual charm. That's not a bad thing, but if you aren't going in already liking these actors, I can't promise that you'll buy the romance.


The format of the movie allows the actors to take something they do as a living anyway and put it on screen: talk to a camera. Most of the characters are always aware of the presence of the camera, and by extension, the attention of other people in their lives watching. The odd mix of personal details being broadcast across the country keeps the tone of the movie light, even when the things being said are really painful. The voyeuristic glee of the producers and the audience artificially boosts the level of enjoyment for the film audience, but that's to be expected.


So what exactly goes on in Ed's life? Let's face it, most of it has the appeal of watching paint dry. The movie avoids most of that. Some of it is worse, but not much of it is better. When Ed decides to clip his nails, we get it in all its full- screen glory. I don't think anything can prepare you for seeing toes that large. Most other things are fairly tame, with the possible exception of Ed's night of passion with a sort-of actress played by the ever-sexy Elizabeth Hurley.

Pervasive Advertising

Any show that has to broadcast without interruption to get most of its appeal has to do interesting things for advertising. EDtv solves it by using a band at the bottom of the screen. It's interesting to see the progression of complexity of the ads, which go from plain text of San Francisco businesses (probably fictional) to fancy brand advertising with logos and slogans. I was disappointed that there wasn't as much interaction between Ed's activities and the advertisements. There is one exception that's probably already been given away in most other commentaries of the movie, but since it's the only one, and not a sample, I'll keep quiet.

Cameo City

Part of me thinks that I shouldn't spill the beans in advance. The rest of me is bursting to tell someone about it. In the increasing trend of showing the media coverage of the topic of the movie in the movie, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, and Michael Moore all put in brief, uncredited appearances. Harry Shearer pops in for a role not entirely unlike his stint in The Truman Show. (There! I've mentioned it! Are you happy now?) There were a few others that I couldn't quite be sure of, but if you see the movie and identify some of them, let me know. Of course, some of the credited cast, like Dennis Hopper, are on the screen so briefly that it's almost a cameo.

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Copyright 1999-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.