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Despite persistent talk of Hollywood's "Golden Age of Cinema",
movie-making did not truly reach its zenith until 1996. The movie was
"Ed", not to be confused with the Whoopie Goldberg abortion of
celluloid "Eddie", that premiered during that same year. In "Ed"
award-winning documentary filmmaker Bill Couturie employs the technique
of cinema verite that lets the camera capture a true slice of sporting
Americana... a monkey playing minor league baseball.
"Ed" is not merely, as Brad Laidman of filmthreat.com raved, "[a movie]
some would say that kids may like," but rather the examination of the
symbiotic relationship between man and monkey. Despite their outward
appearances, can a clear distinction really be made between the monkey
Ed and his human counterpart, Matt LeBlanc? In the film, excel at
baseball (although the monkey is the star), both delight in flatulence,
and both have giant cartoon teeth. And wonderfully, when the film
reaches it's glorious climax, it is the monkey that most clearly
embodies our notions of humanity, imbibing LeBlanc with the confidence
to again throw his curve-ball, the pitch that eventually paves his way
into the Big Leagues (this is despite LeBlanc's supposed ability to
throw a 125 mph fastball).
Although there may be some factual inaccuracies in the film (in a
conversation with LeBlanc, a teammate tells him that Carlton Fisk was a
flop in Boston, but went on to find greatness in Chicago), the true
essence of "Ed" is in it's spirit... and in the fact that it has a
monkey as it's star. Watching this film for the first time, I realized
that I was examining the very embodiment of greatness. This being the
case, "Ed" became the basis on which I would judge all future films.
Forget Siskel and Ebert (especially Siskel) with their thumbs... forget
Leonard Maltin with his stars... and forget A.O. Scott with his
homosexual, liberal bias. The only scale worthy of film review is the
Based on 3 bananas (because really, who needs five?) this scale cuts
through all the other ridiculous criteria such as plot, character
development, acting and direction commonly used by other critics in
their evaluations, and judges movies based on three essential elements.
These elements are:
1. Does the movie contain a character from "Friends"?
2. Does the movie contain a monkey?
3. Is the movie about baseball?
As you probably realize, there is only one film in history that
contains all these elements, and, therefore, it is the greatest movie
ever made. "Citizen Kane" by comparison, the film often mislabeled as
the greatest, contains none of the essential elements of greatness.
Therefore, it is hardly worth mentioning. But a movie such as "M.V.P.:
Most Valuable Primate", centers it's story around a chimpanzee that
plays for a youth hockey team. This is one of those interesting films
that strives for greatness, but lacks certain characteristics that
would've put it over the top. One may ask what director Robert Vince
was thinking when he cast Rick Ducommun in the role of Coach Marlow
when he could certainly have had David Schwimmer. And instead of
hockey, why not youth baseball? But decisions such as these have
presented film buffs with interesting fodder for years, wondering what
could have been if, say, O.J. Simpson had in fact played the title role
in "The Terminator", or if instead of Leonardo DiCaprio, director James
Cameron had cast Dustin Diamond, as he originally planned? But judging
on it's finished product, "MVP" receives 1 1/2 bananas... one for
containing a monkey, and 1/2 for being about a sport other than
baseball. Not bad, judging against the current, deplorable standards of
Based on it's greatness, it comes as a surprise to most that an "Ed"
sequel has never been attempted. I have always assumed that the movie
has become a victim of it's own greatness. Much like Roberto Clemente,
who walked away during the apex of his career, knowing that he had
reached a level of greatness that would doom his future endeavors to
failure in the public eye by comparison, "Ed" director Bill Couturie
knows that another installment would be severely overshadowed by it's
predecessor. But taking matters into my own hands, I penned a letter to
Mr. Couturie, outlining my ideas for a suitable sequel. The idea goes
Both LeBlanc's character and Ed the monkey are playing in the major
leagues... one for a team in the National league, the other for a team
in the American. By coincidence, the two teams meet in the World
Series. Although LeBlanc is now recognized as one of the greatest
pitchers of all time, he is no match for the hitting prowess of Ed the
monkey. And when they square of, mano-e-monkeyo, Ed the monkey is
forced to make a decision whether to allow his friend LeBlanc to strike
him out, or propel his team to victory by hitting a home-run, which he
can do at will. I argue that this will be the first film that allows
it's viewers to really get inside the mind of the monkey... to see his
thought process, to witness what makes the monkey tick. By the time the
last pitch is thrown, there won't be a dry eye in the house... and
those tears will be both tears of laughter and tears of empathy... a
Although I haven't heard back from Couturie as of yet, I expect a
response before too long. Ideas like this don't come around everyday.
If not Couturie, I imagine a Hollywood heavyweight director will jump
From what I understand, Kubrick was considering optioning my treatment
before his untimely passing. Although the idea was intriguing, I
thought that perhaps Kubrick would understate the levity in a project
such as this... opting for lingering shots, subtle dialog, and a
brooding score by Beethoven, instead of the sped up action scenes,
screaming monkey dialog, and circus music score that I believe the film
"Ed II: Monkey in the Majors" calls for.
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