When I review a film, I like to try and elaborate on its good and bad points, however in the case of "EdTv", there aren't many good points to speak of. Ron Howard's film is cliched from beginning to end. There is not one surprising element, and the characters are quite dull, with the exception of Ed's brother Ray (Woody Harrelson), who is at moments, quite funny. Mattew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson look like they could actually be brothers, but McConaughey's performance is just plain dull. And speak of dull; people call this a "hilarious comedy". It had a couple of funny moments, but it definitely wasn't hilarious. As well, Dennis Hopper had a throw away performance as Ed's real father. Why bother getting a brilliant actor such as Hopper for a role like this?
"EdTv" had a couple of minor elements that were somewhat good. First of all, Ron Howard captures quite well, the fascination that people have with seeing themselves on TV. Second, he repeatedly shows images on television, some in extreme close up, uncovering the individual pixels that make up an image, giving the viewer the feeling of the 'artificial'. TV is an artificial means to anyone's existence, whether you're on TV, or just watching it.
The real problem with "EdTv" is its failure to take into account the fact that people act differently when they know they are being filmed. The concept of EdTv is to get into the real life of an average every man by having a volunteer allow a camera crew film every aspect of their life on live TV for two months. But the truth is, people, no matter what setting they are in, respond differently to a camera than to other people. We are lead to believe that this is Ed's real life. Well, it isn't! Early on in the film, Ellen DeGeneres's character says that if you drive by an accident, you can't help, but look "to see if there is that rolling head on the highway". At first I hated this line, because its so cliched in itself; I can remember having heard this line when I was eight or ten. It is however true, people do look and have that desire to look, but something such as an accident is a random and extreme event. These events are what people are interested in seeing. "EdTv" tries to develop a theme around people's desires to watch, but fails miserably. Psychoanalytic film theory has emphasized the importance of the 'look', or the gaze of the audience. This is reflected in its references to the audience as 'the spectator'. 'Looking' is part of an individual's self-definition and relationship to his or her environment. Freudian theory describes the position of the 'spectator' as that of a voyeur, who makes an object of those caught unwittingly in the power of his gaze. The voyeuristic look is one of the pleasures an audience finds in the cinema. One of the real pleasures of 'looking' is the power you feel in knowing that the person who is the subject of your gaze doesn't know that you are looking. "EdTv" doesn't even consider this as an option even though it hinted towards it at the beginning. Films such as "Blue Velvet" and even "Sliver" capture the idea that people want to see what others are doing without them knowing they are being watched.
I think that "EdTv" would have been much more interesting if it had considered some of these possibilities. If what occurs in "EdTv" were to actually ever happen, I don't think it would be much of a success. I personally couldn't care a less about some program with a guy knowingly putting on a show for us. Perhaps if you could get into his life and videotape him without his knowing it, it might be interesting. I know this is a scary idea, and most people would not want to admit this about themselves, but more people would watch if the person being filmed had no clue, because that gives us; the audience, the power.
*1/2 out of ****