Saturday, February 7, 2015

EDDIE (1996)

Directed By: Steve Rash
Written By: Jon Connolly, David Loucka, Keith Mitchell, Jeff Buhai, Steve Zacharias & Eric Champnella
Story By: Steve Zacharias, David Loucka, Jeff Buhai and Jon Connolly
Cinematography By: Victor J. Kemper
Editor: Richard Halsey

Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella, John Salley, Rick Fox, Dennis Farina, Troy Beyer, Lisa Ann Walter,John Benjamin Hickey, Malik Sealey, Mark Jackson

Eddie is a New York limo driver and a fanatical follower of the New York Knicks professional basketball team. The team is struggling with a mediocre record when, in mid-season, "Wild Bill" Burgess, the new owner, as a public relations gimmick, stages an 'honorary coach' contest, which Eddie wins. The fans love it, so "Wild Bill" fires the coach and hires her. She takes the bunch of overpaid prima donnas that make up the team and turns them around. But the owner hopes to move the team, now the darling of the New York fans, to St. Louis. He may OWN the team, but it BELONGS to the city and the fans!

A film that feels like a wish fulfillment fantasy from the 1980's that seems to also work against a gender bias that would naturally be assumed within the films story. That is the type of simple plot this film has. Though it is a perfect time capsule of sorts of the 90's

This is one of Whoopi GOLDBERG's more enjoyable films. Which unfortunately shows the kind of weak material she was offered and choose at that point in her career. Keep in mind in the early 80's her one woman for was revelatory and controversial, now here in this film she is more in a sitcom-ish film, that is frankly better than it should be. She is what really makes the film work.

While the film goes on it's situations are not new or inspired, but the film does charm you with it's sly commentary on how basketball has changed over the years and the ego of the athletes more out for themselves and forsaking the fans and even their own teammates. The loss of teamwork to the growth of franchises and individual superstars. I also love that the film revolves around my hometown team of The New York Knicks.

Now this film does feel off of the assembly line. The type of simple film streamlined out during the 80's and 90's. It helps win the audience over, due to the fresh and funky Whoopi Goldberg. She is energetic and sassy throughout. Though they give her no romance. She more than equated her no nonsense attitude while having fun with the role. She has god chemistry with the other actors especially John Salley, half of the actors are actual players.

What is shocking is how many writers it took to write this film and yet it comes off as common and bland like they took what was best and decided to just go middle of the road throughout the film.

One thing I have always admired about Whoopi Goldberg, be it in life or stand-up comedy or even in her acting performances is that she is usually outspoken and has no fear in saying what is on her mind. That brings a certain honesty and truth to her and her work. She exposes what is on her or her characters mind. Even when the films she appears in are beneath her and her talent.

Which is where her brazenness shines and we laugh out of humor and shock. she shows a confidence and strength that the big screen rarely allows her. As an activist particularly an African-American and a voice somewhat as she always seems to play by the rules, but also her own. Plus she is funny without having to cater to stereotypes.

Though noted as a stand-up her comedy has always come through not only character but by being frank and exposing her thought. Subjects a ideas through other voices thy she plays. In one woman shows and experimental theatrical performances. Like Lily Tomlin

I remember watching her growing up through films and Comic Relief specials. In high school was when I finally heard her one woman show on tape and got to see it on home video. For awhile she was one of the few supposedly strictly movie actresses I remember being open to appearing on television shows usually as a special guest star. Other then Levar Burton and Michelle Nicholas she was also one of the first African American characters in science fiction

She truly showed her restless nature when she performed on comic relief after the friars club roast debacle with her and Ted Danson who she was faith at the time appearing in blackface. It was the first time she spoke publicly about and have her true feelings a display while also being funny. That is why Whoopi Goldberg always means something to me.

The film is episodic with Frank Langella playing the southern team owner as more an entrepreneur caricature or cartoon Character, more than an actual human being, but with this type of film what would you expect.

The film is a humorous family friendly and cute. That encapsulates New York attitude and fandom. That is a good afternoon time waster.

Grade: C+

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