Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"None of the characters are interesting. They slip into stereotype and stay there, grinning."

If it wasn't for The Truman Show, this might seem original. Both are about media intrusion into the privacy of a person's life, the difference being that Jim Carrey didn't know it was going on and Matthew McConaughey does. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel learnt their craft on sitcoms. As a writing combo, they specialise in soft farce (Spies Like Us, City Slickers, Father's Day). EDtv should have been a biting satire on the voyeuristic tendencies of dumbed down television, but is a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy instead.

Ed (McConaughey) is a nice guy with no ambition, a 31-year-old video store clerk, who is chosen to be the subject of Live TV's new 24-hour surveillance show, a fly-on-the-wall docusoap that means having a cameraman in his face every minute of the day - bathroom business excluded.

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He goes along with it because they pay money and he hasn't the wit to realise how this will seriously screw up his life and heck! it might be fun. The boardroom suits want ratings. What hikes ratings? Human drama - rows, romance, the flash of nipple through an open window. It's all here on EDtv. The country is hooked. Scenes in bars and homes have ordinary people arguing about the state of play. Ed's brother, Ray (Woody Harrelson) is caught cheating on his girl, Shari (Jenna Elfman), who takes up with Ed until she can't stand the cameras anymore (thumbs up from the audience - they think she's a whiner - let her go). An out-of-work actress (Elizabeth Hurley) is brought along as tottie fill. Ed thinks it's Christmas, until he remembers, maybe he loved Shari after all...

None of the characters are interesting. They slip into stereotype and stay there, grinning. McConaughey, who started so well with A Time To Kill and Lone Star, has pool hall charm. He gives Ed the charisma of a burger and fries. Harrelson is slumming. He has genuine star quality and stays on the bench most of the movie, while Elfman makes herself look frumpish. Liz Hurley does what she does. One day, she'll be asked to act without wearing a dress slit to the buttock bone.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Man invites reality TV cameras into his life, without considering the consequences.
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Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Sally Kirkland, Martin Landau, Ellen DeGeneres, Rob Reiner, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Hurley, Adam Goldberg, Viveka Davis, Clint Howard, Geoffrey Blake, Gail Boggs, Jenna Byrne

Year: 1998

Runtime: 123 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

My Little Eye
The Truman Show