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Ed Wood (1994)
Rated R

Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, and Bill Murray

Rating:
****
out of
*****

Edward D. Wood, Jr is widely considered one of the worst directors that Hollywood has ever come in contact with. Before viewing this fact-based bio-pic, one might simply think that Wood was just a guy with no real idea of what he was doing. After viewing this movie, you'll be wondering how he got anything to the screen in the first place.

For those that aren't familiar with Ed Wood's work, he was the writer and director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Glen or Glenda?, and Bride of the Monster to name a few of his more well-known movies. All of them are horrible when compared with other movies. But when looked at individually, each one of them shines with an aura of complete idiocy that endears itself to schlock fans everywhere.

Directed by Tim Burton (Mars Attacks!), the movie tells of Wood's rise from producing schlocky stage plays to producing schlocky feature films. Wood (Johnny Depp) not only set unrealistic goals for his productions, but had a knack for befriending down-on-their-luck associates, including the washed-up Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau in a fantastic performance). In fact, Wood doesn't pass judgement on anyone. "If I did, I'd have no friends," Wood says in the film.

Wood managed to get Lugosi to perform in some of his first feature films. Lugosi was heavily addicted to drugs and could use the money. With a "big name" star under his wing, Wood was able to secure some capital with which to make these films. (That is, after he convinced those with the cash that Lugosi wasn't dead yet.)

As if Wood wasn't unusual enough, he was also a transvestite with a weakness for angora. While not a homosexual ("I love girls," Wood states to his new girlfriend, Kathy (Patricia Arquette), it does cause him some problems with his first girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker), who can't tolerate Wood's new found popularity among the inhabitants of the strange underworld of Hollywood's backlots.

Although the description of the plot might tend to alienate casual moviegoers, Ed Wood is a movie that is more entertaining than it sounds. Depp's performance as Ed Wood comes off as a ventriloquist dummy come to life but, somehow, it works. Landau is superb as Lugosi. Some of the scenes with Depp and Landau are sheer "geniuses-at-work"-type stuff. The performances from Bill Murray as Bunny Breckenridge, a transsexual friend of Wood's, and Lisa Marie as Vampira simply add more strength to an already strong movie.

If you're into bio-pics, Ed Wood is a winner. If you're just into hilarious movies, it's still a winner. Rent it!

Trivia: Ed Wood is based on the book Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey, which details Wood's life from his beginnings as a stagehand to his death in 1978. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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