“Ed” — Matt LeBlanc’s New Movie a Chimp Off the Old Block

ED_Matt LeBlanc_chimp

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
March 15, 1996

2 stars

“Ed” is a cute movie about a minor league baseball player who learns about love, respect and self-confidence from his chimpanzee teammate.

If you can’t get past this premise, don’t bother going to see the comedy, featuring “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc (as the pitcher, not the chimp), ’cause it doesn’t get any more real than that.

Unlike last summer’s feel-good flick “Angels in the Outfield,” which also had an implausible but highly entertaining plot (angels literally push an underdog ball club to clinch the championship), “Ed” uses baseball less as a plot line than as a metaphor about friendship.  OK – not really.

But doesn’t that sound better than stating the obvious: that the comedy is basically a showcase for LeBlanc’s good looks and for cute animatronic monkey business?

LeBlanc signed to do this movie before the NBC sitcom made him a star, which would explain why he allowed the filmmakers to dye his black hair a strange rust color.  He plays Jack Cooper, a ruddy-faced farmboy with a killer right arm that gets him signed to the minor league Santa Rosa Rockets. His problem, though, is that he chokes in front of an audience.

It could be that Cooper just hasn’t recovered from the trauma of having been served his pet pig Wilbur for breakfast.  But more likely, it’s that he needs more experience. But his good-hearted Coach Chubb (Jack Warden) doesn’t send him back to the farm. Rather, he recruits a 5-foot simian named Ed Sullivan to boost team morale. (Huh? Stay with me here.)  Turns out the little fella is quite a ball player (Ed, not Cooper) and gets promoted to third basemonkey.

The wise coach knows what the rest of us do, too:  If they room together, they will bond.  So Ed is sent to live with Cooper, where the two try to stay out of each other’s way.  After Ed accidentally breaks a lamp, Cooper says, “I’m gonna spank that monkey,” but that sexual innuendo was lost on the predominantly young children who were at the matinee I attended.

After sharing the bathroom, TV dinners and the remote control (Ed tunes into an episode of “Friends” when Marcel, the scene-stealing monkey, makes an appearance), the two grudgingly begin to bond.

But a precocious neighbor wants Cooper to bond with her pretty waitress mom (Jayne Brook), which he does, but all the kissy-faced stuff is put on hold when Ed is traded. Never mind that no team would trade a star player who happens to be a monkey.  But  why the heck would the other team pay big bucks for Ed not to have him play, but to dress him up like Chuckles the Clown?  I don’t think so.

With his toothy smile and dopey mannerisms, LeBlanc has an endearing quality that translates well on the big screen.  This isn’t the best vehicle to showcase his thespian skills, but it’s not an embarrassment, either.

Unlike Marcel, which is played by real monkeys, Ed is a combination of animatronic models and human actors in makeup. He’s a cute concoction, though it was disconcerting that he appeared small and cuddly in some scenes, while in others his head and body were bigger than LeBlanc’s.

If you haven’t already guessed, “Ed” is not a great movie.  What it is is a fun way to spend 1-1/2 hours not thinking.

Comments (3)

  1. Katie cope says:

    My husband and I are watching it right now. It’s cute in my opinion and my husband loved it as a kid. It’s an obviously fake monkey, but it’s worth the watch.

  2. Megan says:

    Matt was hot in this movie.

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