Ed's Next Move

Rated R–language
 Matt Ross as Eddie Brodsky and Calliope Thorne as Lee, his love-interest

This is the gentlest movie I've seen in years–or possibly ever–with an "R" rating. The innocence of its main character and even the few innocent uses of the obscenity that earn its "R" give this film an unexpected appeal. Ed Brodsky, a Conan O'Brien look-alike played believeably by Matt Ross, is a hero to audiences because he's an unassuming country bumpkin–but even that word is too harsh; bumbler is more fitting–from Wisconsin who moves to New York to leave his past with his ex-girlfriend behind, and learns to adjust to the biggest of all American big cities.

I found myself rooting for Ed and I think you will, too, even though the only hurdles he overcomes are some of his naivete about city life and his lucklessness at winning fair damsels' hearts. But hardly anything is more likeable than an unspoiled youth in a cruel and ugly world, though even New York is less cruel under Ed's influence than as usually portrayed.

When he meets his roommate for the first time, a black lothario who boasts about having four women on a single elevator ride, Ed grins honestly and admits, "Four women on one elevator? I've never even had four women in one time zone." Even the street-wise African-American New Yorker is taken in by such guilelessness. Later, the roommate, played by Kevin Carroll, asks Ed if he plans to "do" Lee on their first date. "Do her?" Ed asks. "I 'do' my laundry and I 'do' my job; I don't 'do' women." But it's a tribute to the acting and the directing of first-timer John Walsh that it doesn't come across as self-righteous on-screen.

What makes Ed such a nice guy? Walsh, who also wrote the script, wants us to know it's not religion, which probably gets suspected, especially when the character is from the mid-west. When the kindly accented babushka in the neighborhood cafe where he has breakfast and fixes the blender suggests he might meet a nice girl at her church bakesale, Ed says, "Naw, I haven't been to church in years." Instead he probably just overheard the old bromide, "It's nice to be great but even greater to be nice." He finally meets the one he wants at a party he crashes with Kevin, and pursues her till she catches him. She's a poet/songwriter who writes lyrics like "you hurt your leg so I carried you/you got a divorce and so I married you/you fell off a cliff so I buried you/I wish there were more bad times to see you through." Right down Ed's alley.

There are reminders, to me at least, of Breaking Away and My Body Guard here. This is neither as compelling nor as sweet as either of those, but it's the best of its kind to come along in a long time. A sleeper; with some genuine laughs; a great date movie; definitely worth seeing.

© Jon Kennedy 1996
All photos © by films' respective releasing companies.