Thursday, June 4, 2020

Reservedsploitation (Animals! Day): ED

by Adam Riske and Rob DiCristino
The review duo who might never live this one down.

Adam: Welcome to Reservedsploitation. I’m Adam Riske.

Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: I make no apologies picking Ed to cover for Animals Day. I’ve always wanted to see it. 13-year-old me knew I would be mocked relentlessly if I asked my friends to go see it in theaters. So, I waited until I was 38 to watch it because it’s less embarrassing. Thank you, Rob, for not only humoring me but also being on-board for watching Ed.

I’m just going to say it. This is the Wish Upon of baseball films. I love this movie. It’s a children’s film made by crazy people. I’m not sure why Matt LeBlanc chose this as his first starring role to ride high off his Friends bump. Was it a decision to do something kind of punk rock compared to David Schwimmer and Matthew Perry, who went the romantic comedy route? Can you imagine the shit LeBlanc probably took from his castmates for this movie?

Ed tells the story of a minor league baseball team that has a plan (you know this because coach Jack Warden is reading a binder that says “The Plan” on the cover) to add a chimpanzee as their mascot. Turns out the chimp, Ed, is a really good third baseman. He’s the second coming of Brooks Robinson. Ed is a big hit with fans and his teammates except for his roommate, struggling pitcher Jack “Deuce” Cooper (LeBlanc), who is exasperated by having to live with a chimpanzee in his small apartment. Will they become friends? Will Deuce get it together on the mound? Will he find love with his conveniently available pretty neighbor (Jayne Brook)? Did you see that Deuce throws 125mph, Rob? The film sports (no pun intended) a surprisingly good supporting cast including Warden, the immortal Bill Cobbs and Jim Caviezel.
Rob: Ok, so we need our version of The Plan to approach this conversation because this movie is absolutely bonkers, and I kind of loved it. I don’t even know where to start. So, Jack is a farmer who wins a spot on a Class A team after an open tryout. He’s never played ball before in his life, but he throws a 125-mph fastball. Fine. Got it. The movie doesn’t have anything further to say about it, which I respect. He has a dog named Speed (who more or less disappears when Ed shows up), and he’s constantly blowing games by trying to throw curveballs.

Adam: He’s nicknamed “the Deuce” after the pitch that he can’t throw. That’s some passive aggressiveness I can tip my hat to.

Rob: One day, the son of the owner purchases *checks notes* Mickey Mantle’s pet chimp (whom manager Chubbs dubs “Ed Sullivan”) and intends to use him as a new mascot, even though the team’s called The Rockets. Sure. So, then Chubbs puts Ed at third base when their cross-eyed infielder gets hit in the head with a ball. Following a ruling by the awesomely-named teammate “Stats” Jefferson (Carl Payne III), it is decided that there’s no rule against a non-human playing baseball. Except for the opposing team’s manager, everyone is totally cool with this development. The umpire even turns to the stands and gives an emotional speech about the patriotic, unifying power of baseball. He rules.

Adam: It’s an incredible scene especially because the umpire is Richard Gant, the same actor that played the Don King-like bad guy from Rocky V. He crushes speeches. Continue...

Rob: Oh man. Remember that scene where all the suits laugh about how much money Ed is making them while they share frozen bananas? It’s shot like a horror scene with this fish-eye lens and it’s clearly the filmmakers dunking on these tools. It’s awesome. You know what? This really is one of those conversations where we could just recount the events of the movie, but I want to pause the summary and talk about how hard Jack Warden and Bill Cobbs rule as Chubbs and Tipton. They spend the movie casually Statler and Waldorfing their way around the insanity, and it made me want to write them a spin-off where they buy a zoo or something. I also love that the big-hitting rival player’s name is “Crush Bunyon.” That was cute. So was all the speed-ramped action and ‘90s kids movie hijinks that Ed gets into with Lydia’s daughter, Liz (Doren Fein). That’s super cute, too. This whole movie is super cute. Like, I’d tell my grandma to watch it and she’d call me later and say, “That was cute!”
Adam: Remember the scene where Liz asks Jack if he’s gay and when he says no, she asks “Then why won’t you date my mom?” The screenplay is from David Mickey Evans, the director of The Sandlot and First Kid.

Rob: That girl wingmans her mom like nobody’s business. What did you think of the actual Ed effect, in general? As in the prosthetics/puppetry and performance. I thought it was pretty well done.

Adam: It’s better than Andy Serkis. Not only did I believe it was a chimpanzee, I believed it was a chimpanzee who played minor league baseball and had the same concerns of humans as well as chimpanzees.

How is this movie not a cult classic?

Rob: I’m trying to figure that out. It has a stone-cold 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for four Razzies. Now, aside from all that being hot nonsense, I’m wondering if it just missed its demographic. I’m ten in ‘96, and I could give a damn about Friends, so I’m probably skipping this one. But then, it’s a MONKEY that plays BASEBALL! How did I miss it?! I imagine that enough of the kids who became present-day adults who would be advocating for this one now either didn’t see it or don’t remember it. That leaves its legacy as the “failed Joey from Friends movie,” which is just not fair. There’s a huge difference between a genuinely heartfelt and goofy movie like this and something like Angels in the Outfield, a movie that thinks it has real pathos and is actually a clumsy, tone-deaf mess. Ed owns its weirdness and has endless fun with it. I liked it a lot.
Adam: I did too. Patrick has mentioned on the show certain movies “feel like they’re getting away with something.” That’s Ed for me. Quite honestly, I’m stunned to have liked it as much as I did. We’ll be back next week celebrating Blaxploitation Day with a review of Across 110th Street, starring Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Quinn. Until next time…

Rob: These seats are reserved.


  1. If I were Matt LeBlanc at the height of Friends, I would have fired my agents immediately for even sending me this script.