A monkey playing baseball, what could be cuter? In the case of Bill Couturié’s Ed, you could slap Chunk from The Goonies in in some Victoria’s Secret lingerie and you’d have something more attractive. At least then you’d have something funny. In Ed, it’s actually creepy more than anything else because the titular character is more a human puppet than a real primate. The result is about as natural as an actual monkey making it in the Big Leagues as a manager.
With the Santa Rosa Rockets looking for a gimmick to win games and, more importantly, people in the stands, management brings in the ultimate slap in the face for baseball purists: a monkey named Ed. Everyone recognizes this as a horrible idea at first, but Ed finds his way of winning folks over with his goofy laugh, quick hands and creepy shifting eyes. Just as important as Ed’s role as a publicity stunt, if the monkey’s way of instilling confidence in his roommate, Jack Cooper (Matt LeBlanc). Cooper is a walk-on farm boy with a rocket for an arm. But baseball’s more mental than physical and without feeling good about himself, Cooper finds himself in trouble.
Ed follows the unlikely bond and friendship the primate and the human form, playing it up for cheap gags and a horrible film. Monkeys are naturally funny animals. They’re unpredictable and their closeness to humans make for something of a mirror reflection of ourselves, only with more hair. If Ed were actually a monkey, then there’d be something to this. Instead, the monkey was played by people in a monkey suit, which couldn’t have been scarier. When going this route, films have two paths: don’t try and hide the fact that it’s not a monkey or try and hide it and hope that nobody notices. Well, they tried to hide it and I don’t see how you couldn’t notice. The result is a truly awkward look that I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t give my young kids a nightmare or two.
LeBlanc, who at the time was headed toward superstardom as part of the Friends ensemble, essentially plays the same character he did on the show. He’s a likeable doofus who can entertain himself with the simple things in life, although here he’s got a monkey for a roommate instead of Chandler.
Ed is a film that should have been written off as a bad idea for all involved. Animals playing sports aren’t new. In fact, as a kid I remember smiling Gus, a football kicking donkey. The best thing I can write about Ed is that they actually resisted having the monkey throw his poop around. Monkey movie, baseball movie or not, Ed is truly one to be forgotten, unlike the image of Chunk in some skivvies that I planted in your head. For that, I apologize.