Don't dismiss it as a "Truman Show" rip-off; Ron Howard and Matthew McConaghey know what they're doing.Of course, it would be impossible to watch "Ed TV" without thinking of "The Truman Show"; "Truman" came out a few short months ago, and our attention spans aren't as short as some folk would think. Is the movie similar to "Truman"? Yes. Does that take away from the film itself? Not in the slightest.
Matthew McConaghey plays Ed, a video store clerk who is selected to have his life filmed, 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Of course, in the beginning, as fame and fortune rain down upon Ed and his family and friends (Martin Landau is excellent as Ed's step-father; Woody Harrelson is equally good as his brother), life is good. But as the fame begins to destroy all that Ed cares about, he begins to realise that maybe celebrity isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Unoriginal message aside (Fame is bad? Thank you for telling us, famous people. Go back to your mansions), "Ed TV" is saved by its sense of humour and its performances. Writers Ganz and Mandel have worked with Ron Howard numerous times before, and their writing fits in with his direction easily and comfortably. The dialogue is quick, clever, and manages to breathe life into the otherwise tired message of the film. All of the performances are top-rate, although with such a huge cast, some good actors are lost (Adam Goldberg, for example). Combine this with a great series of twists at the ending, and you've got a movie with heart and humour that everyone should enjoy. Is it better than "Truman"? I don't think so; "Truman" managed to be funny and make a serious point about our society, while "Ed" never really turns its eye on the public. "Ed TV" simply points to the TV executives as the villains, without looking at the people who watch the shows. But consider "Ed TV" the "Doctor Strangelove" and "The Truman Show" the "Fail-Safe" of the "TV is evil" movies. They're both excellent - one just takes a slightly lighter view of things.Ron Howard wasn't blessed with good timing for this movie, but he was blessed with good acting and writing, which more than compensates.