Critics' Corner

Bruce Walker - Weekend section, "An alleged sports comedy."

Rita Kempley - Style section,
"A wretched roundball comedy."

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'Eddie': Whoopi on the Court

New York Knicks fan Edwina "Eddie" Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) finds herself hired by new owner Wild Bill Burgess (Frank Langella) as "honorary coach" to the pro team.

Seeing how positively the fans react to Eddie, Wild Bill names her coach after Coach Bailey (Dennis Farina) gets mad and has Eddie thrown out. Eddie leads the team to success until Wild Bill concocts a plan to sell the team. -- Bruce Walker
Rated R

Director: Steve Rash
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg; Frank Langella; Dennis Farina; Richard Jenkins;
Lisa Ann Walter; John Benjamin Hickey; Troy Beyer
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Filmographies: Whoopi Goldberg; Frank Langella

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'Eddie': Air Ball

By Bruce Walker
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 31, 1996

In this alleged sports comedy, New York Knicks fan-atic Edwina "Eddie" Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) finds herself hired by publicity-obsessed new owner Wild Bill Burgess (Frank Langella) as "honorary coach" to the pro team.

But Coach Bailey (Dennis Farina) gets mad and has Eddie thrown out. Seeing how positively the fans react to Eddie, Wild Bill's original 10-watt idea dims to five watts and he ends up naming her coach.

The fictitious Knicks squad (made up of players from several NBA teams) play against real NBA teams (you see current Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman playing on his former club, the San Antonio Spurs) has lost 19 games straight, so why not? The next hour or so is filled with the Knicks committing turnovers, until a player tells Eddie they'll keep losing until she takes an interest in their personal lives. Wow! Suddenly they're a winning team about to make the playoffs.

When Eddie hears that Wild Bill plans to sell the Knicks to another city, she calls a timeout in a crucial game and tells the fans about the plan, threatening to throw the game if he sells the team. This "high point" had me on the edge of my seat-wanting to exit the theater way ahead of the rest of the audience.

Eddie contains minor profanity.

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'Eddie': No. 1 in Offense

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 1, 1996

Sportscaster Marv Albert calls the shots, but there's nothing wild or wacky about "Eddie," a wretched roundball comedy with Whoopi Goldberg as a limo driver-turned-NBA coach. An air ball on par with last month's "Celtic Pride" and "Sunset Park," this slight fairy tale records Edwina "Eddie" Franklin's rise from die-hard New York Knicks fan to the team's head coach.

Though the role was written for a guy-Billy Crystal bailed out-Eddie is probably the closest Goldberg will every come to playing Cinderella . . . or any other character remotely comfortable with her femininity. But in her case it's pretty remote: Coach Eddie motivates her players by referring to them derogatorily as "girls."

Eddie's fairy godmother is Wild Bill Burgess (pitiable Frank Langella), an ornery Texas billionaire with a mouthful of magnolias and 10 gallons of hot air under his hat. Burgess, the new owner of the last-place Knicks, fires the hard-nosed head coach (Dennis Farina) and, as a publicity stunt, replaces him with Eddie. And here's where the six screenwriters come up with a twist that's, like, from three-point land:

Right off, Eddie sees and solves the problem: This squad of millionaire egomaniacs doesn't know the meaning of teamwork. Eddie, who as a limo driver earlier tossed her boss out of his own office and slammed a door in his face, does. She not only gets the team winning in no time but takes her Knicks all the way to the playoffs. (The three or four folks who saw "Sunset Park" will recall that Rhea Perlman did exactly the same thing for her high school.)

Goldberg is supported here by a cast of NBA players, including the Chicago Bulls' John Salley, the Boston Celtics' Rick Fox and the Los Angeles Clippers' Malik Sealy. In addition to these and other famed hoopsters, the picture features a slew of shameless self-promoters, including New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor Ed Koch and Donald Trump.

Director Steve Rash, whose only noteworthy credit is "The Buddy Holly Story," probably thought they said drivel instead of dribble.

Eddie is rated PG-13 for profanity and sexually suggestive situations.

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