Richard Harrington - Style section,
'Ed': Not a Home Run
Ed comes to the rescue of ace pitcher "Deuce" Cooper.
Cooper is a shy and insecure farm boy, so team manager Chubb
hooks him up with the worldly Ed, whose move from mascot to player
inspires the team to realize its playoff potential. Ed even serves as
babysitter to the precocious Liz so Deuce can take her mom out for
a night on the small town. Has anyone ever thought about how much
trouble a chimp and an imp can get into? -- Richard Harrington
Monkey See, 'Ed' Do
By Desson Howe
"Ed," the story of a baseball-playing chimpanzee, is a double-play cliche. It joins the weary dugout of such kid-baseball movies as "Angels in the Outfield" and "Rookie of the Year"; and, with its hairy hero (that's Ed), it trails tedious knuckles next to the likes of "Dunston Checks In" and "Harry and the Hendersons."
Even by the lax standards of both genres, the movie is breathtakingly unadventurous, with its cheesy story line, hackneyed ballpark-fable sentiments, "adorable" animal and collection of one-dimensional human nincompoops, headed by Matt LeBlanc from "Friends."
LeBlanc, whose pasty, shy-boy-toy demeanor makes his name seem particularly apt, plays farm boy rookie Jack Cooper, who has just signed on as a pitcher with the Santa Rosa Rockets. Cooper has a rocket arm, but he keeps giving away games to intimidating hitters. He's so obsessed with his pitching problem, he hardly notices Lydia (Jayne Brook), an attractive, extremely available single mother, who lives with her precocious daughter Liz (Doren Fein).
Into this poignant human drama hops Ed, the team's new mascot, acquired irrelevantly from the estate of the late Mickey Mantle. Manager Chubb (Jack Warden) figures that uptight Cooper might learn something (about life and baseball, presumably) if he rooms with the playful chimpanzee. For most of the movie, Cooper chases his hairy roommate around the house, while Ed (played, variously, by an animatronic puppet, and suited-up actors Jay Caputo and Denise Cheshire) refuses to eat his monkey nuggets, demands bathroom rights and emits gas from every orifice.
Oh, the toilet humor in this movie! Ed (not to mention scriptwriter David Mickey Evans) takes great delight in amplifying his gaseous abilities and, boy, do we hear the details. (We're also privy to a completely gratuitous "spank that monkey" comment presumably aimed for the Beavis and Butt-head generation.) Of course, kids will enjoy these moments because, well, that stuff's funny when you're young; as is the sight of a monkey smearing his face with the contents of a TV dinner.
"Ed," which marks the inauspicious, theatrical debut of documentary filmmaker Bill Couturie (who produced "Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt"), is thrown together with such little concern for originality or its audience, it's appalling. Maybe that's why they had to get an animatronic chimp: A real monkey would be far too intelligent to be part of all this.
ED (PG) — Contains relentless mediocrity, bathroom humor, mild profanity and grown-up kissing.
Better Dead Than 'Ed'
By Richard Harrington
Better dead than "Ed." That's what you're likely to think should you stumble into, or out of, this shaggy-chimp story. Baseball may be America's game, but when Hollywood gets through with it, it's simply gamy. After kids, angels and women, the latest addition to the lineup is Ed, bought by a struggling minor league club from the estate of a certain Mr. Mantle. Ed may well be Mickey's Monkey—clearly, he's in a league of his own as an acrobatic third baseman, instant walk (it's that short strike zone) and tricky base stealer.
Ed also comes to the rescue of ace pitcher "Deuce" Cooper (Matt LeBlanc of TV's "Friends"). Cooper is a shy and insecure farm boy, so team manager Chubb (Jack Warden) hooks him up with the worldly Ed, whose move from mascot to player inspires the team to realize its playoff potential. Ed even serves as babysitter to the precocious Liz (Doren Fein) so Deuce can take her mom (Jayne Brook) out for a night on the small town. Has anyone ever thought about how much trouble a chimp and an imp can get into? Scriptwriter David Mickey Evans has, and leaves every ice cream and popcorn joke intact. He also resorts to the kind of bathroom humor that won't entertain even the film's preteen target audience.
LeBlanc is actually outdone by the animatronics team responsible for Ed. This all might have worked on a small screen, but on the big one, "Ed" looks as cheap as its inspiration. It's a run home.
Ed is rated PG.