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EDTV: Collector's Edition

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted February 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
In Short: Not exactly the greatest Ron Howard film, but certainly one of Universal's best DVD efforts in a disc that's PACKED with extras.

The Movie:

Mainly believed that "EDTV" suffered at the box office from a case of people had seen the concept before, not only in "Pleasantville", but "The Truman Show". That might have been a contributing factor, but the film itself simply isn't that great, either.

Matt McConaughey stars as Ed Pekurny, a Texas slacker who finds his way into being the star of a 24 hour a day television program focusing on his life. Although at first he's a little awkward in the role, of course after a while, it's Ed who's going to all lengths to entertain the audience. Ed has a band of colorful characters in his universe as well, such as his brother(Woody Harrelson), father(Martin Landau) and brother's girlfriend who Ed starts going out with, Shari(played by Jenna Elfman). After Shari leaves Ed, a sexy British woman(Elizabeth Hurley), enters the picture.

The biggest problem is that we know where EDTV is going from the get-go. The idea of Ed being on his own television show is simply an outer layer. The base of this story is a standard romantic comedy. We know that at some point, the picture will start saying that TV is evil, blah blah blah. It really doesn't have anything urgent or new or really that fresh to say about how TV interacts with our lives. There's no "edge" to this either. It's occasionally funny, but it could have gone a lot farther rather than choosing to be thin, lighter-than-air comedy. The romantic elements between Shari and Ed aren't really that interesting and the romantic scenes between Ed and Hurley's character seems don't really go anywhere and seem a little too silly.

Above it all, McConaughey is the wrong actor for Ed. We're not made to care about this character and two hours of him begins to get really quite annoying. Woody Harrelson isn't much better as Ed's brother. The only actor who manages to be occasionally funny is Ellen Degeneres as a TV exec. This is a picture that really doesn't aim to be much more than a light comedy and it only occasionally is successful at that. "EDTV" is occasionally funny, but don't expect any sort of ideas or statements on how TV effects our culture.

The DVD VIDEO: Goregous 1.85:1 letterboxed image. An anamorphic transfer, the colors are deep, rich and accurately rendered throughout. Colors are also very well-saturated. Images are completely clear and "film-like" throughout, looking consistently sharp and clean throughout, whether in exterior or interior, light or dark, images remain consistent in quality here throughout.

Detail is also quite good, especially in the excellent looking San Fransisco exteriors(John Schwartzman("Armageddon"), was the cinematographer on this film). Contrast as well as shadow detail are quite good. Flesh tones are also consistently accurate and natural throughout. There's nothing in the way of problems with the print or problems such as pixelization or aliasing. It's another great Universal transfer- they've always done excellent work on their Collector's Edition titles and this is no exception.

SOUND: Mainly dialogue accompanied by current rock tunes. There's not much going on in terms of details in the environment as Ed walks through the streets of San Fransisco as the sound mix mainly focuses on creating clear sounding dialogue that never sounds thin or compressed. Just basically a pleasant "dialogue-based" mix with a few nice rock songs thrown in and no problems to speak of.

MENUS: Some suprisingly basic menus, but I did enjoy the fact that these were quite easy to navigate and nicely laid out.

Commentary One::A very funny commentary by writers Babaloo Mandell and Lowell Ganz. They start off watching the Imagine Entertainment logo and commenting, "imagine if this had been a hit". This isn't really a commentary with a lot of production info, but it certainly does succeed in being entertaining. Rather than talking from a perspective on being on the set and production stories, the two writers here talk more about their perspective and concepts for the picture as well as some early concepts for where this picture was going compared to where it finally went. What I really liked was the fact that the two writers talk about scenes that they think didn't work, such as the video store scene early in the movie. It's so refreshing to hear a commentator admit when something didn't go quite as well as it could have. This is just a fun commentary- the two writers have a lot of fun and a lot of joking on the movie throughout(during a scene in an ice hockey arena, they describe the crowd as "everyone in this arena is in Ron Howard's family, they're all Howards"). Definitely a fun listen. There are some pauses in the commentary, but when there is discussion going on, it's so funny I didn't mind the pauses.

Commentary Two: A good commentary by Ron Howard. Mainly Howard discusses the story as well as some production info, and how choices were made in what direction to take the film. I have to be honest though, there is something in this commentary that I don't care for. There's a little too much of Howard going, "this actor is soooooooo good and soooooo wonderful to work with." With everything so "great" according to Howard, didn't anything go wrong on set? For the most part, though I did enjoy this commentary and certainly liked hearing Howard's insights into the story as well as the actors. He also has a lot of information on lines and ideas that some of the actors brought to the picture. Definitely a good commentary, but I found the Ganz/Mandell track a little funnier and more entertaining.

Commentary Note: What really annoys me with the Universal titles is that you can't switch between commentaries on the remote control. When you have a commentary, or especially more than one commentary, viewers should absolutely be able to switch between tracks with the remote control.

Deleted Scenes: Probably a record number of deleted scenes are contained on this disc. A lot of the scenes definitely were rightly taken out, but there are some interesting scenes that are interesting, but were probably taken out in the interest of time. There's so many here you have to wonder what the original draft of this film had to be like. There's so many deleted scenes that I wish they would have chapters so we could skip right to them. Instead, they are presented one after another. There's around 40 minutes of deleted scenes here.

Outtakes:: Some very funny outtakes. A few Ellen Degeneres scenes, but mainly, this is mostly Woody Harrelson messing up lines and joking around. Funny stuff and definitely worth watching. The outtakes reel runs about 10 minutes.

"Caught In The Camera's Eye": Mainly a chance to see producer Brian Grazer's odd hairstyle(just kidding.). Seriously, this is a light documentary with interviews from the cast and crew as well as some details about the production itself. Mainly, it's the concepts from the cast on their perspective of fame and how it works into the plot of "EDTV". Nothing too earth-shattering here, but it's a nicely produced documentary that runs about 30 minutes(not bad!)

Final thoughts: Definitely not the greatest film, but quite a nice disc! There's an absolute ton of extra material to go through and I think fans of the film will be very pleased. Audio/video quality is quite good as well. Definitely a very good job by Universal.

Trailers:: Not only do we get the trailer for "EDTV", but also for current Universal theatrical releases "Mystery Men" and "Bowfinger". Universal is the first to take advantage to promote current theatrical releases on their DVD- something I thought studios should do a while ago, and they should be praised for it- it's a great idea to include trailers for current films.

Notes:Production notes as well as cast/crew bios

Music Highlights:: Jump right to certain scenes in the movie where certain songs are playing.

Music Videos:2 Music Videos(look under "Reprise Soundtrack Presentations")- one from Bon Jovi, one from the Barenaked Ladies.

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