Starring Matthew LeBlanc

This film is on the Worst of 1996 list.

Opens: March 15, 1996 | Rated: PG

To a seven-year-old, "Ed" is a three-star movie. It's resplendent with goofy grown-ups and gags involving bodily functions -- and it has a smart-alec, animatronic chimp, so what's not to like?

To a parent, "Ed" is the kind of movie that makes you wish some aunt or uncle was in town to take the kids to the movies instead of you.

It would seem that "Ed" star Matt LeBlanc isn't any brighter than the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks character he plays on NBC's "Friends," at least when it comes to his career. No television star with good agent would pick this movie as their first feature film if they ever want to make a second.

But as you may already know, "Ed" signals the start of a barrage of movies this year from various "Friends" cast members, and whatever the rest of them have in store for us, let's hope it's better than this.

LeBlanc plays a minor league pitcher down on his luck. To revitalize his dreary team, the coach (Jack Warden) brings on board a baseball-playing chimpanzee named Ed Sullivan, hoping he will help pick up the players spirits -- and the attendance.

Of course there's the mean ol' owners who later sell the chimp. Of course there's the pretty local waitress for LeBlanc to take to the carnival while Ed and her cute 7-year-old daughter trash the house in a montage sequence of burping contests, over-flowing popcorn and melting ice cream.

Of course, that's about the extent of the plot, and it's not enough to hold a kid's interest for 90 minutes.

Sure, kids will remember "Ed" as being a hoot, especially with the cartoon-like editing that speeds up the action during some scenes to make them look sillier (unfortunately not the scenes that really need it).

But all the bad elements of this movie that a kid will forget, a parent dragged to the theater on a Saturday afternoon will remember, ad nauseam.

If you take the kids to see "Ed," be prepared to explain the non-linear storyline on several occasions. Despite it's core simplicity, the movie has no sense of time (the baseball season is half over after three games) and gets lost frequently in the outfield of random plot twists.

Be prepared to roll your eyes frequently at the movie's weak attempts to include a few adult jokes (what kid will know who Ed Sullivan was?), and know that much of the movie will make no sense to someone looking for more than a parade of potty jokes.

None of this should come as a surprise to parents who are regularly dragged to the theater for the kiddie matinee. But it's a pity that studios often figure if they can't be Dinsey, the Ben and Jerry's of kids movies, they might as well be jingling ice cream truck that drives through the neighborhood overcharging for flavorless snow cones.

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