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Ed (1996) - Does it hold up?

There might be a reason Matt LeBlanc’s movie career never took off.

Movie poster for Ed (1996)

Once upon a time, Matt LeBlanc seemed like a superstar in the making. He played the very popular Joey on the incredibly popular show, Friends. However, his spinoff - titled Joey - didn’t find nearly the success of the show it had spawned from. So he tried his hand at movies. During his time on Friends, he tried to break out into film, as well, but had even less success than the spin-off show which led him to take a sabbatical from acting.

He made five movies during that period, including two Charlie’s Angels movies, the criminally underrated Lost in Space, and this movie. Ed. Ed is such an abysmally bad movie and he was so incredibly lackluster in the film that it’s astonishing he was allowed to continue acting.

What went wrong?

In a word: everything. This movie takes bit and pieces of other, better baseball movies - many of which still weren’t good - and throws them in a pot in an attempt to make a profitable movie that was mostly banking on LeBlanc’s marketability. Too bad it’s incredibly insulting to the intelligence of anyone over the age of 10 at all times.

The movie kicks off with the single-A team Santa Rosa Rockets holding tryouts - because that’s a thing single-A teams do. The first lines of audible dialog are describing how a pitcher has failed the tryouts because he allowed a single home run. In steps Jack Cooper, wearing cowboy boots instead of cleats so you know he’s inexperienced and from a farm, even though his background will never be relevant again. He throws a fastball so hard that the catcher winces and the team immediately decides to sign him - because that’s a thing single-A teams can do.

He immediately becomes known as a guy with tons of talent but who can’t seem to put it all together. The only thing is...unlike many other movies which have relied on this plot device, his problem is one of choice. He could dominate if he’d throw his fastball, but he refuses to do so, insisting on throwing his curveball at all times for no reason that is ever explained. Also, apparently, no one can stop him from doing this.

Shortly after this, the movie introduces the animal sidekick; Ed was the pet chimpanzee of Mickey Mantle. The team has purchased him in order to use him as a mascot but when their third baseman gets concussed, the team manager decides to put him in to play third base (a position Mickey Mantle was known for playing, oh wait not at all!) reason. It’s not that they don’t have any players on the bench or that he knows for sure that Ed will be good at it. And yet, it’s done.

Even better, the opposing manager attempts to protest this decision - an entirely reasonable stance to take, I think. However, he does so as an older white man saying to a black umpire, “We already let anyone play!” to which the umpire scowls and the manager says, “You know I didn’t mean it like that!” but it boggles the mind to imagine what he did mean. This forces the poor black umpire to deliver a speech about how baseball and America are free and anyone can play, even a chimpanzee.

The rest of the movie is people complaining about how Jack can’t pitch as well as he should, monkey shenanigans, and a brief interlude for Jack to date his neighbor who seems to exist solely to be his love interest for all of 10 minutes of run time. The only other female character in the movie is her daughter who puts all of her efforts into trying to get her mom and Jack together. Despite the fact that basically, all they have going for them is that they’re both physically attractive. They are not shown having a real conversation at any point in the movie prior to their dating relationship. Eventually, Jack decides to start throwing his fastball because he went on a date and that somehow fixed his brain.

Yes, it’s true. The movie doesn’t understand baseball at all. It also doesn’t understand characters - Jack’s arc goes “I throw good fastball. I refuse to throw fastball for reasons. People tell me I’m trying too hard. I throw fastball. I’m good now.” It doesn’t understand comedy - the movie leans heavily on fast-forwarding and bizarre cuts in order to try to and force the audience to be amused by its attempts at physical humor. It doesn’t even understand drama.

At one point late in the movie, the evil team owner’s kid attempts to sell Ed to the circus because somehow he thinks this will profit him more than he can get by having a chimp on his team which regularly gets magazine covers and plays amazing baseball. Jack has to rescue him from a cage and two thugs. As they attempt to flee the stadium and get to the championship game at another park Jack spots a small window through which Ed can escape and tells him to go before fleeing in a different direction. After Jack escapes outside, everything should be fine and they should head to the game, right? Wrong.

Jack finds Ed’s clown costume on the ground and hears the chimp calling from a frozen banana truck that is driving away. The audience is “treated” to a high-speed chase as Jack drives a broken-down pickup after the refrigerator truck. Once he convinces the truck driver to pull over he slams open the back of the truck to find a shivering Ed among many now-empty frozen banana boxes. They call an ambulance and Ed is taken to the hospital in critical condition.

So, to recap, everything was going good. The owner sold the monkey to a circus. The monkey was rescued. The monkey decided, of his own volition, to jump into the back of a truck in search of treats while in the middle of escaping from criminals who want to harm and exploit him. This is despite all evidence throughout the movie that Ed has near-human intelligence - and might be smarter than Jack. GOOD DRAMA.

Of course, the team wins the championship and a Tommy LaSorda cameo results in him demanding that Cooper get signed to the big league team no matter how much money it takes. Because that’s something LaSorda can do and that’s how promoting guys from the minor leagues work. Just to add a little bit more insult to injury. Oh, and the monkey got better during the course of the game and then got to the stadium to watch the final out somehow.

On a final note, this movie is not available at no additional cost with any streaming service. It must be rented or purchased. I rented this movie to review it for you. I paid money to spend 90 minutes having it fry my poor brain cells. You all better appreciate what I do for you.

Do not, under any circumstance, rent or purchase this movie. It features no redeeming qualities. There are no high-quality performances, no memorable scenes or even story beats within a scene. It is trite, stupid, and insulting. May the film gods have mercy on its negatives.