Directed By Ron Howard
By: Eric G.
Apparently, the scriptwriters for EDtv didn’t think that The Truman Show went far enough with its twenty-four hour real life television concept because they pretty much run with the same concept here. EDtv is a blatantly commercial extravaganza that is supposed to be a satire of the fleeting power of fame in America but comes across more as a celebration of stardom and its perks.
The executives at True TV are desperate for ratings, so Ellen Degeneres’ market saavy character comes up with a real life spoof of MTV’s The Real World. She holds screenings for contestants at a local bar where she spots Matthew McConaughey’s idiot savant redneck character, Ed Pekurny. His charm is undeniable with his slow Texan drawl, and he represents exactly the ‘everyman’ demographic Degeneres is hoping to reel in. Plus, he’s a pretty boy underneath the redneck exterior.
The film cashes in on every cheap laugh possible without the sense of irony that permeated The Truman Show. Jenna Elfman plays her underdog girlfriend role with surprisingly few affectations and comes across as a real person for once. Woody Harrelson plays Ed’s brother- a self-absorbed asshole with dollar signs in his eyes when he realizes the potential cash cow this could be for him. His scenes are few but they steal the spotlight every time.
The film plays like a call and response session as director Ron Howard intersperses reaction shots from families, dorm rooms, and gas stations all over the country, where everyone has an opinion of Ed’s situation. Gratuitous product placement shots unfortunately pop up in almost every scene. Some of them are remotely justifiable, but there are far too many times when the camera just zooms in on a billboard or a fast food box or a drink machine for no apparent reason.
As you’d expect even if you haven’t seen The Truman Show, Ed gets tired of all the attention from the media that has torn apart his family and made a relationship with his girlfriend impossible. You can’t help but meet the brief moral turn of the film with skepticism because it seemed to enjoy the build up a little too much. EDtv might make you laugh, but it will leave a bad taste in your mouth.