THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Thursday, March 21, 1996 TAG: 9603210035 SECTION: DAILY BREAK PAGE: E7 EDITION: FINAL TYPE: Movie Review SOURCE: BY MAL VINCENT, MOVIE CRITIC LENGTH: Medium: 84 lines
THE ONLY monkey that got close to the movie ``Ed'' was the studio executive who OKed making a baseball story with two short people (one male and one female) taking turns running about in a hairy costume.
To be more species-correct, the title character of ``Ed'' is a chimpanzee. To be even more specific, he's a human. Darwin would have done cartwheels over this proof of evolution.
Ed, even with a rather lame animatronic mask, doesn't look much like a chimp at all. He's more like a reject from the bus-and-truck tour of ``Planet of the Apes.'' (Could he be the illegitimate offspring of Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter?)
Maybe the smallest members of the audience won't notice, but they'll have to be pretty young.
The idea, if executed with more charm than here, has all kinds of possibilities. A monkey team could, under other circumstances, shine. We could have Kong (King) playing second base, and batting clean-up. And put Cheetah at shortstop.
Ed, after a brief stand as mere team mascot, plays third base for the minor (very minor) league Santa Rosa Rockets. His throw literally burns a hole in the first baseman's mitt. Ed is named for Ed Sullivan. Mercifully, the real Ed Sullivan has gone to that ``really big shew'' in the sky and won't have to see this.
Ed's human bedmate is Matt LeBlanc, the TV hunk from the series ``Friends'' (who apparently signed for this lackluster big-screen debut before he became hot as a TV hearthrob). LeBlanc plays a rookie pitcher who leaves his hound dawg, Speed, back on the farm to try for a career in the minors. Inexplicably, he's regarded as a hot property, even though he constantly loses games. (He has the speed, but every time he throws his curveball the other team scores a home run).
The smaller kids will probably be delighted when Ed destroys a house when he's left to baby-sit the child next door. There are bathroom jokes and flatulence jokes aplenty. In this category, the producers show an isolated bit of smartness. They seem to know that kids, particularly little kids, love these naughty jokes.
LeBlanc's character is so obsessed with his career that he refuses to ask the model-pretty woman next door for a date until his game improves. Manipulated by her young daughter, he eventually warms up to romance - even interrupting one game to run over to the sidelines and ask her for a kiss - in front of the entire stadium.
Surprisingly, this low point in baseball movies is directed by Bill Couturie (his debut). He has, up until now, been a highly serious maker of documentary films like ``Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt'' and ``Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.'' One can only guess that he must be behind in his rent payments.
In the last reel, LeBlanc is, inexplicably, asked to rescue Ed and get back to the big game. This plot device is trotted in with no build-up.
The script misses out on a chance for a big finale by keeping Ed on the sidelines for that big game.
These simian antics might have been disarming if they had been performed by a real chimp. (In fact, they would have been amazing).
As it is, the chimp, and the movie, looks pretty phony. ILLUSTRATION: UNIVERSAL
Matt LeBlanc co-stars with Ed, a mascot chimp who becomes a third
baseman for a minor-league team in ``Ed.''
Cast: Matt LeBlanc, Jayne Brook, Jack Warden, Jay Caputo, Denise
Director: Bill Couturie
Screenplay: David Mickey Evans
Music: Stephen D. Endelman
MPAA rating: PG (the usual kid stuff on the level of movies
today, bathroom jokes, flatulence jokes, some mean stuff to the
Mal's rating: *1/2
Locations: Cinemark, Greenbrier in Chesapeake; Circle 4, Main
Gate in Norfolk; Columbus, Kemps River, Lynnhaven Mall, Surf-N-Sand
in Virginia Beach