8- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday. March 19, 1996
- ..nwwwinw... Wi':: h
By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
It is obvious after seeing "Ed" that
baseball and chimpanzees just don't
mix. This should be axiomatic, but don't
look for Hollywood to adhere to basic
standards of good taste. Rather, expect
that most "family films" will appeal to
the lowest common denominator and,
in the process, insult the intelligence of
"Ed" concerns a talented, but choke-
prone minor league pitcher named Jack
Cooper (the vapid Matt LeBlanc, from
the vapid "Friends"). Despite Cooper's
blazing fastball, he can't manage to win
Directed by Bill Couturie,
with the Matt LeBlanc
and Jack Warden
a game for the Santa Rosa Rockets. In a
corporate ploy to attract spectators to
the ballpark, the team's owners pur-
chase Mickey Mantle's chimpanzee,
Ed, to serve as the team mascot.
It quickly becomes clear, though, that
the chimp has talents and ambitions
beyond being the mascot. He is a skilled
third baseman, one who is able to per-
form on the field with considerable
"Look buddy, the movie sucked, but jumping ain't gonna solve anything."
aplomb. Cooper is assigned the dubi-
ous duty of having to provide room for
Ed in his apartment. Of course, Ed
trashes the joint and initially wreaks
havoc in Cooper's life.
And then what do you think happens?
Well,Cooper's confidence ontheballfield
is bolstered, he falls in love with a beau-
tiful woman and he develops a deep friend-
ship with Ed. Ah, if only I could be so
fortunate as to have a chimpanzee come
into my life. But, this kind of stuff only
happens in the movies.
All the same, one hates to think that
this is what people want to pay $6.75 to
see. The trajectory of "Ed" is so appar-
ent from the get-go that the ending isn't
satisfying in the least. We know Cooper
will get the girl; we also know that the
team will rally around Ed and conse-
quently win the championship. There,
I've just saved you $6.75.
Unfortunately, "Ed" doesn't possess
any features that compensate for its
ridiculous premise and storyline. The
humor of screenwriter David Mickey
Evans doesn't appear to have progressed
beyond a third grade, highly scatologi-
cal level. But, hey, if you like flatulence
jokes, then "Ed" is the picture for you.
Not only is Evans' humor in ques-
tion, but his dialogue is abysmal. We
hear profundities like "(Ed's) not an
animal. He's a ball player," uttered with
great weight and seriousness. The char-
acters, spewing out this banal tripe,
register an agonizing lack of depth.
And their acting doesn't really pull
them out of the morass. LeBlanc gives a
thin performance, neverprovidinguswith
a strong sense ofmotivation. He's plastic
and polished, revealing a limited emo-
tional range. Jack Warden, as the Rock-
ets' coach Chubb, phones in the sort of
crusty performance that is expected from
him. The one ray of light is Jayne Brook,
playing the love interest Lydia, who adds
a little class to "Ed."
I can't neglect to mention Jay Caputo
and Denise Cheshire, the two
stuntperson/gymnasts who inhabit the
"Ed the chimpanzee" costume. Caputo
and Cheshire are old hands at portray-.
ing primates. Caputo played Assassin
in Congo" and Cheshire was a gorilla
in "Gorillas in the Mist." Their perfor-
mance in "Ed" is difficult to evaluate,
but they do look very convincing.
On the technical side, director Bill
Couturie can probably be'held account-
able for many of the film's problems.
He has a weakness for cartoonish, spe-
cial effects-enhanced sequences that
don't have the character of true com-
edy. Couturie also has trouble with pac-
ing, creating a movie that is as pro-
tracted as the game of baseball itself.
Homero Aridjis, translated by Betty Ferbm
The Lord ofthe Last Days: Visions of the Year 1000
William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Toward the beginning of this intriguing novel, the narrator, a medieval monk
at work illuminating a manuscript of the Book of Revelation wonders: "Although
I know my name, and I know the body I will die in, in this final hour I do not know
if I am Alfonso de Le6n or if I am Abd Allah, if I personify Lord Christ or
This sense of conflicting and opposing forces drives the novel. It is the year 10
A.D. and Spain is the site of clashes between two distinctly different groups: t
Christians and the Moors. Alfonso de Le6n embodies not only the struggle
between them, but the way in which these two groups are intrinsically linked in
In place of chapters, the novel is divided up into Alfonso de Leon's numbered
"visions." In one of the most lyrical visions, he tells the story of his childhood in
a sumptuous harem and his early relationship with Abd Allah, his twin brother,
who, as leader of a Moorish army, grows up to become his mortal enemy. From
the beginning, the identities of the two brothers are confused and there is violent
conflict between them. For instance, remembering one of their childhood fights,
Alfonso de Le6n comments, "His hands hurt me from pummeling him so hard on
my body. He was so like me that for a moment I thought it was I who was savagit
him. I read the horror he provoked in me on his face."
Alfonso de Le6n becomes a sort of apocalyptic prophet - the "Lord of te Last
Days"- and equates the coming of the end of the world with the inevitable battle
between the Christians and the Moors and himself and Abd Allah. The rivalry
between them increases as the complexity of their relationship begins to reveal
The entire world the novel portrays is rife with a sense of confusion and
uncertainty about both the present and the future. Characters are confrontedwith
false prophets (such as a particularly grotesque character who calls himseffWIidoro
I) and endless rumors of spirits and divine revelations relating to the apocalyps
Language itself is in a state of semi-chaos. In the context of the novel, t
Spanish language is just beginning to emerge. "How strange that a tongue should
be born when the world is dying," the narrator remarks.
The line between the natural and the supernatural is continuously blurred. In one
of the most bizarre scenes, Alfonso de Leon witnesses a sort of funeralwedding
between his brother and a dead woman. Alfonso de Leon's life in the nibuastery
is marked by physical hardship and spiritual revelations - viewing his world
through his eyes, it is often difficult to differentiate between the two.
The novel is rich in historical detail, which is a result of the author's exhaustive
research. However, what is also interesting is the way in which the narrative is infused
with commentary on the modern world. For instance, a female visionary prophesies
the coming of an antichristwho will "resuscitate corpses while exterminatiui
thousands of animals and plants ... speak of saving the Earth while he burns fores
fouls the air and poisons the waters ... invoking peace he will fill the world with the
dead. Wherever he walks, rivers will die, trees will topple, youths and maide4ns will
wither." This environmental commentary might seem heavy-handed in nother
context, but within the novel it comes across more mystical than political.
The author, Homero Aridjis, has earned renown for his poetry and novels both
in his native Mexico and abroad. "The Lord of the Last Days," with its riepoetic
language and historical insight is well deserving of praise.
Poets Explore the Museum of Art' tonight,
Join local writers like poets Keith Taylor and Richard Tillinghast and fiction
writers Charles Baxter and Nicholas Delbanco as they read written
reflections on works of art featured in the University's Museum of Art'
Part of the new "Evening at Rackham" series, the multi-media event will'
eventually culminate in a book called "A Visit to the Gallery."
The event is in the Rackham Amphitheater, tonight at 7 o'clock. Admis~son
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATION RESEARCH STUDY:
If you are a healthy,18-50 year old male, and your weight is between 110
and 220 pounds, you may qualify for a medication research study.
You must not have a history of: You must not:
" Ulcers " Take daily prescription medications
" Allergies to Aspirin or Ibuprofen
Payment for completing this study is $2,422.00.
For more information, please call Ann or Barb at (313) 996-7051,
Mon. - Fri., 9:00 a.in. to 4:00 p.m.,4
Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis, Community Research Clinic,
2800 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
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