Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is a flamethrowing single A baseball prospect walking a fine line between getting cut or making the big leagues. The coach knows he needs a boost so puts him in charge of the baseball playing chimpanzee mascot named Ed! Can Jack find his confidence, save Ed, get the girl, and take down the eeeevil team owner’s son before it’s too late? Find out in… Ed.
How?! Discovered throwing heat on his Oregon farm, Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is shipped off to single A ball to see if he can make it big. Unfortunately he isn’t having much fun playing baseball while he works out the kinks in his curveball. Knowing that Jack needs to loosen up a bit, the coach puts him in charge of taking care of the teams new mascot, a baseball playing chimpanzee cooked up as a gimmick by the smarmy owner’s son. In a big surprise to everyone this chimpanzee named Ed is not only incredibly smart (suspiciously so, even), but plays third base like… you know… Mike Schmidt or something. Not only does the team go on a big ol’ winning streak thanks to both Ed and the confidence he instills in Jack, but he also starts a major friendship with Jack and helps him in all kinds of ways. Most importantly he encourages him to ask out his neighbor and even plays babysitter for the neighbor’s daughter while Jack takes her out on a date (this is obviously a terrible parenting mistake, but we’ll let it slide). Unfortunately on the cusp of The Big Game, the smarmy owner’s son decides it’s time to cash in on Ed and sells him to the highest bidder. Everyone is super sad, but Jack makes the decision to risk making the start at The Big Game in order to go and save Ed. In the zany chase that ensues, Ed is trapped in a frozen banana truck and nearly perishes. Sad and concerned, Jack still makes the start and is able to get his team one batter away from winning The Big Game. Just as he’s about to (probably) totally blow it, Ed shows up at the game, flashes the ‘deuce’ signal for the curve ball (not hiding the signs much there, guys), and Jack wins The Big Game. Everyone celebrates and Jack smooches his neighbor or something. THE END. Big Question: How many references is too many references to the dark racist past of baseball in a children’s film about a baseball playing chimpanzee (this film contends that there is no limit. I would say any more than zero is a mistake)
Why?! Interesting question. Jack really does seem to want to make the big leagues despite having apparently not played much competitive baseball. So… for the love of the game, I guess. Same for Ed, although he apparently can play single A because there aren’t any rules against it. I’m sure there would be rules by the time he’s making his way through AAA. The smarmy owner’s son just wants to make a quick buck by flipping a baseball playing chimpanzee he bought on the cheap. Turns out to actually be a pretty savvy business move.
Who?! In a bizarre cameo, Tommy Lasorda shows up at the end of Ed to watch Matt Leblanc throw a single curve ball and be like “we need to sign this kid to a big contract to play for the Dodgers!” Gotta say… not the best for Lasorda’s legacy in baseball. I mean, you gotta do a bit more scouting than that before throwing a contract at someone.
What?! There was some pretty obvious product placement in this that was used in the typical children’s film fashion. Ed drinks a bunch of Coke and burps to much laughter and applause, etc. I did like the made up product placement of Frosted Bananas, a company that deals exclusively in frozen bananas and is wildly popular in the Santa Rosa area. Not only is everyone bananas for Frosted Bananas, but there are enough trucks randomly driving around that Ed finds one to hop into during the climactic chase.
Where?! We open briefly in Oregon and spend the rest of the movie in California. While that is made very clear in the film, I’m pretty sure this could have taken place in any number of places in the United States. It actually would have been a great Cape Cod League set film given that Jack is kinda a country bumpkin and he could have gotten involved with a local rich girl… but also there is a chimpanzee there. But just California. Whatever. B.
When?! It seems very likely that this takes place in high summer and then concludes in the beginning of September during the minor league playoffs. While the team he plays for is not real, it makes sense that he is in the California League, which finishes the second week of September. C
This movie is really nuts. Every moment brought another gasp of surprise at what they might do next. Ed is unbelievably human-like for a chimpanzee, but the complete lack of surprise at this fact by everyone who interacts with him makes it seem like it all takes place in an alternate universe where chimpanzees are basically human beings that don’t talk. Even the way the team gets Ed is confusing… they keep calling him Mickey Mantle’s monkey. So… was he? Or is this a nickname because they already knew he was the greatest chimpanzee baseball player in history? It’s weird and at times unsettling. Add on that the chimpanzee babysits a child (horrifying) and that the entire film is a misguided allegory on America’s racist history (a mistake) and I’m not sure whether this is a great BMT film or a tragic mistake. As for MVP: Most Valuable Primate, it was almost more horrifying than Ed. It felt a little… exploitative I guess. Like the whole film is just a chimpanzee doing the wide (and I mean wide) array of tricks it was taught. It’s pouring coffee, it’s putting on glasses, it’s brushing its teeth. I will say, I enjoyed seeing the chimpanzee skate… like he actually skated on ice. It’s amazing! I did not enjoy watching several actors without disabilities playing characters with disabilities so overall more horrifying than Ed. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have called it This Ape is Playing Baseball, and That’s Crazy!! With a double exclamation point at the end because that’s how crazy it is. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I’ve definitely seen this film before a long long time ago. And at the time I must have been watching Friends, otherwise how would I have known who Matt LeBlanc was. Anyways, the only thing I remember well was the scene where Ed eats ice cream because it is super duper gross. That’s it. I am very interested to see how the ape animatronic/costume holds up over time. What are my expectations? Let’s get this straight: kids’ films are very rarely good BMT films. They are usually just a bunch of fart jokes and not much else. This is exactly what I expect it to be with a healthy dose of Matt LeBlanc being a bad actor.
The Good – The film is good natured enough. You have single mothers, you have young men just trying to make their way, you have a good-hearted coach, and a chimp that can play baseball. There isn’t really a B-story that kids can’t relate to, the B-story is about a single mother and her precocious kid … that’s relatable. Like Air Bud 2 that is the type of story some child of divorce I’m sure appreciated at the time. There were a thousand ways things could have gone worse. There could have been a whole weird story about the league not wanting Ed to play and the Rockets laying their jerseys down on the commissioners desk to say “Ed can play for me coach … er, commissioner I mean.” Or there could have been a story about the team not wanting to play with a chimp. Nope, just a lot of good-natured fun and fart jokes. What can you do, really?
The Bad – After that paragraph maybe you’d think there wasn’t much to complain about. Well, the animatronic / chimp actors are terrible. Ed is just large enough to be creepily too-human on screen. And everything the animatronic does, like getting disgusting not-ice-cream all over itself, is just weird and makes me feel uncomfortable. The baseball is ludicrous, although intentionally so. He throws 125MPH?! He would be called to the big leagues immediately. He’d be unhittable. Ed is also basically human. If Ed could exist there would be a huge push for animal rights because seriously … Ed has the intelligence of a full grown adult human being. Ed should have the right to vote. There would be huge questions about Ed being a slave! On second thought … let’s not get into some of the racial undertones of the film as a whole and just leave it there.
The BMT – I do think there is a lot more room for animal films in BMT. It feels like we haven’t seen a lot of them, like Larger than Life and Operation Dumbo Drop in particular. This is also pretty fascinating as a dying gasp for animatronics in film. Or at least it feels that way. Congo was the year before, and soon cheap CGI would replace the need for such expensive tricks. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly LeBlanc was better than I expected, possibly because the people surrounding him were worse than I expected. The sheer lunacy of the entire affair helps, but mostly it is as expected. Fart jokes and not much else.
Roast-radamus – There is very good Coca-Cola Product Placement (What?) throughout the film. Ed is drinking both Diet Coke and Coca Cola (for real, he can’t tell the difference! That’s how delicious and refreshing Diet Coke is!) and he’s loving it. Also a very interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) for Santa Rosa, California, which is just north of San Francisco. This is somewhat important because it is specifically noted that LeBlanc’s character comes from Oregon and drives down at the start of the film. It feels like out of all the possibilities, the only superlative this has a chance at is Bad mainly because it is a kids’ film. But I guess we’ll just have to see what Jamie thinks of it.
StreetCreditReport.com – There are arguments that August 1996 was the worst month in movie history (I doubt it, but the arguments exist), so it isn’t surprising it got crowded out on yearly lists. But there isn’t really even lists for worst films starring animals. Those lists are almost always about talking animals specifically. You really have to go for Worst Sports Movie … and hoo boy does it make some lists. Both Ed and MVP (see next section) exist on this list! And because sports media loves making amusing youtube videos about weird sports movies: SB Nation did a whole video on Ed! That is a lot of sports movie cred … turns out by adding an animal to your sports movie you almost immediately make all adult sports fans hate it. Ed? More like crEd, amirite?
Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we sadly watched MVP: Most Valuable Primate as another sports playing chimpanzee film. It was a rather interesting contrast to Ed. Made by people who produced Air Bud (and with the same human star) it is, effectively, just a display of what you can train a chimpanzee to do. Make coffee, wear clothing, and astonishingly ice skate? Like legit this chimpanzee ice skates and roller blades! It is actually amazing. But also it is a step backward (the chimps are mostly shot in close up, nary an animatronic to be seen) and displays a bit of how straight-to-video animal kids’ films were going to operate in the future. Here they decided against the animatronic route because it was too expensive. Eventually people would decide training animals at all was too expensive because you eventually see untrained puppies being combined with CGI to create countless Christmas Puppy Adventures or whatever. Ed and MVP pairs well in showing how the industry evolved from the mid-to-late 90s into the 00s. Eventually films starring animals were almost completely relegated to VOD or animation. A Dog’s Journey was one of the last big releases and even that got itself into hot water with the treatment of trained animals. B+, the movie is a slog, but has enough interestingly weird production stuff to make the watch worthwhile (I didn’t mention just how Canadian the entire film is! It is very very Canadian).