review for EDtv on AllMovie

EDtv (1999)
by Karl Williams review

This tired, spiritless comedy from director Ron Howard attempts to criticize the media's intrusion into the everyday lives of ordinary folks, but has nothing new to say about a subject so eloquently addressed in The Truman Show (1998) a year earlier. That film maintains a clever undercurrent of menace beneath its sunny, feel-good surface, but by posing as a completely good-natured romp, EdTV lacks the courage of its conviction that television is anathema to its viewers. While Ellen DeGeneres is amusing in her small supporting role and Woody Harrelson is a cast standout as Ed's jealous brother, leads Matthew McConaughey and Jenna Elfman never really become engaged in their characters. Specifically, the romantic motivations of Elfman's character Shari are a complete mystery, as is Ed's passionate attraction to her; even the script seems to lose interest in Shari towards the end, replacing her with Elizabeth Hurley. Blandly likable but not sharp enough to serve as the satire it wants to be, EdTV is, ironically, a bit like one of the numerous cookie-cutter situation comedies polluting TV airwaves: just funny enough to make it on the air, but not destined to be a hit.