|Category||Comedy||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.78:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 2
#1 - Ron Howard (Director)
#2 - Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Writers)
|Running Time||118:03 minutes||Other Extras||Biographies - Cast and Crew
Deleted Scenes (39:06)
Featurette-Making Of Caught In The Camera's Eye (30:07)
Columbia TriStar Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16 x 9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or
The broad plot is that television producer Cynthia Topping (Ellen DeGeneres) has pitched an idea to her station boss Whitaker (Rob Reiner) about a twenty four hour a day look at the life of an ordinary guy. The selection process narrows the choice of participant down to one Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey), a video store clerk in San Francisco. Pushed by his brother Ray (Woody Harrelson), Ed reluctantly agrees to the deal and thus starts a rather intrepid journey that pokes fun at a lot of things but also has a poignant message about the effect of fame. Here we have Ray alienating and humiliating sister Marcia (Viveka Davis) with a less than funny story, Ray cheating on his girlfriend Shari (Jenna Elfman) on national television, Shari breaking up with Ray and starting up with Ed on national television, Shari leaving Ed because of national television attention and media polling, Shari getting back together with Ed in spite of national television and the media spotlight, wannabe starlet Jill (Elizabeth Hurley) taking up with Ed to get national television exposure and so on and so on. Add into the mix a father Hank (Dennis Hopper), whom Ed has not seen for years, suddenly appearing then disappearing, stepfather Al (Martin Landau) with a very dry sense of humour and mother Jeanette (Sally Kirkland) caught between a few lies and you have a very ordinary family caught up in a very unusual situation. A situation that unfortunately starts to wear them down and the only solution to which is to get the television station to voluntarily axe the show. But this is an enormously dense script that really needs to be watched as no synopsis is really going to do it justice.
Personally, I found EDtv to be a gloriously humourous poke at the whole concept of celebrity and the effect it has on the participants. Ron Howard has made some great films in his directorial career, most notably Apollo 13, Ransom, Backdraft and Cocoon, and this in no way diminishes that portfolio. This is a wonderful film, starting with a great script from Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel and extending through some great acting and some marvellous cinematography. At just about every level of this film, quality is on show. Particularly impressive to me is the use of film and video and the segueing of the two formats here to create a glorious feel of live action and television action in the one film. Some of the ways that the segueing was done to move from scene to scene is especially impressive. But beyond the technical quality is the quality of the performance. Matthew McConaughey is superb as Ed and brings an impish sense of fun to the role and is completely believable in the role. His chemistry with Woody Harrelson is obvious to see, and you do not need two commentaries and a featurette to tell you this. The surprise for me though was Jenna Elfman, who really does not do a lot for me: here she is completely believable as the girlfriend trying a relationship with a guy in the public eye when she really has very little success with relationships anyway. Just about every role has a gem player, and you would find it hard to fault the dry wit of Martin Landau here, nor the vixenish sexuality of Elizabeth Hurley and the presence of Rob Reiner (better known as a director) as the station boss. Of particular note is the use of real cameramen to film the video action whilst themselves being filmed as part of the film action.
Having now seen it on DVD, I regret never having caught this at the cinema. Undoubted class across the board led by Ron Howard in a triumphant return to comedy.
The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
It is important to understand that the film was shot in such a way as to have an essentially film aspect to the action whilst also having a video aspect to the film. As the action switches from one form to another there are obviously going to be textural differences that are completely intended. Accordingly, you have the sharp and clear transfer for the film aspects that contrasts with a slightly grainier, slightly less sharp and slightly murkier transfer of the video aspects. Overall, this came out really well and is a very convincing and believable transfer that leaves you in no doubt as to what "version" of the action you are watching. It should be noted however that this was never what I would call a really sharp transfer, and this is a part of the compromise in how the film was put together I believe. Shadow detail was very good. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems in the transfer.
The colours were very nicely rendered throughout the movie, with a slightly richer tone to the palette. It is not what I would call a vibrant transfer, but again this is a reflection of the way the film was made, and the result is a very natural feel to the film. There was the odd hint of oversaturation of the colours at times, but nothing that you could really call distracting and annoying.
There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts noted in the transfer - I think there were a couple of extremely minor instances of aliasing that really were not that noticeable. There was the odd film artefact here and there but all up this is a very clean transfer as befits a film of such modern vintage (although we sometimes do not see such clean transfers in modern films).
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change coming at 86:20. This is not too noticeable and is barely disruptive to the film.
There are six audio tracks on the DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and two English Audio Commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and to the English Audio Commentary tracks.
Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There were no audio sync problems with this disc.
The score by Randy Edelman is a fairly typical example of his work, effective but not especially memorable. It is nicely supportive of the on-screen action although you would be hard pressed to remember that you had heard it when the film is finished (well at least I didn't).
This is a nicely detailed soundtrack with some nice use of the surround channels, without being way over-the-top in effects. The result is a quite nicely ambient soundtrack that encompasses you pretty well as part of the action. Perhaps there could have been a little more use made of the rear surround channels, but this is a dialogue-driven film and huge effects this will never give you.
The bass channel seemed to get very little use, and for the most part was non-existent in the mix.
The Region 4 release misses out on:
A very good video transfer.
A good audio transfer.
A very good extras package.
© Ian Morris
8th December 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|