1996 – in retrospect, an insanely innocent time. Charles and Diana officially divorced. Nintendo 64 was flying off the shelves. Dolly the sheep was cloned. Deep Blue defeated chess champ Gary Kasparov. The Internet was growing in leaps and bounds (from 1 to 10 million host computers in a single year) but in the time before Snapchat and Google, we had ICQ and Ask Jeeves. Spice Girls has their first #1 hit with Wannabe and TV stars were jumping off the small screen and onto the big one: Helen Hunt did it in Twister, and the Fresh Prince in Independence Day, and Joey Tribbiani from Friends got to make a shit little movie called Ed.
Matt LeBlanc does not play the title character. That honour goes to an honest to god monkey. LeBlanc plays Coop, a farm boy turned minor league ball player who’s got a rocket arm but no experience – turns out, he’s a bit of a choker. So that’s why when the owner buys Ed the chimpanzee as team mascot, the chimp rooms with Coop.
Turns out the chimp’s a bit of a ball player, and pretty soon he’s fielding third base and actually setting glove ablaze with his fast ball. The story is embarrassing, probably particularly for second-tier bit part Jim Caviezel, who maybe styled himself a more serious actor than, say, TV’s Matt LeBlanc, or, frankly, the monkey in a baseball cap.
In the film, Ed has a meta moment in which the chimpanzee Ed watches an episode of Friends, the very sitcom that made his co-star Matt LeBlanc a star. Ed’s watching clips of a discarded Friends cast member, Ross’s short-lived monkey, Marcel. Marcel was played by a real monkey on the show, but Ed is most assuredly not. He’s a poor combination of animatronic head and person in a monkey suit.
The role of “Ed” is attributed to both Jay Caputo and Denise Cheshire. Jay Caputo is a former gymnast turned stunt coordinator. He played apes in both Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (2001) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes ten years later. His movie credits include Forrest Gump, Space Jam, Batman & Robin, and Thor, and Taurus World Stunt Award performances in Monkeybone, The Animal, and Swordfish. Denise Cheshire’s post-Ed credits include Jack Frost, Mighty Joe Young, and Men in Black II.
Ed is an unequivocally bad movie, with an unyielding 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and 4 Razzie nominations to its name (it “lost” worst screenplay, worst screen couple and worst picture to Striptease; Matt LeBlanc losing worst new star to another TV crossover, Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire).
And that’s all I have to say about that.