Whoopi Goldberg is probably the only woman around who can hold her own in a huddle of seven-foot-tall men.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Whoopi Goldberg is just about the only living thing in "Eddie," and she almost succeeds in rescuing the whole leaden affair from a sea of characters made of cardboard and paste. As for the plot, you guessed it: The New York Knicks, 19 straight losses, new coach, 10 seconds left, down by one on the way to the playoffs--bingo.

Let's be positive. As Eddie, Whoopi Goldberg nails the frenzied, utterly neurotic loyalty of the New York City sports fan. Her clothes for the evening are impulse choices from a closetful of Knicks jerseys. Her adrenaline level soars and plunges in direct response to the game score she tracks on the radio while working as a limo driver. On off nights she's at the Garden with her buddy, Claudine (Lisa Ann Walter), hollering instructions to the floor from the cheap seats in the peanut gallery.

The Garden culture is abruptly defiled by the arrival of the new team owner, Wild Bill Burgess, a magnate of some sort, who reveals his sleaze by riding a sneaker-clad horse onto the floor while waving his white cowboy hat to a stunned crowd.

Smelling opportunity in the Knicks most vocal fan, Wild Bill slips Eddie into a half-time free throw contest that wins her a night as honorary coach. When Eddie stands at the line and scans the Garden with an awed, "It just doesn't get any better than this," the promise of a merry fantasy dances on the screen.

But even Whoopi can't make much fun of the dreary giants who surround her. She has one player with a marriage problem that must be solved, one good-hearted veteran with bad knees that topple him, and one with an outsized ego that must be clipped.

The mediocre basketball scenes rob the picture of drive. Eddie's running conflict with Wild Bill is the only suspense generator in the film, and even that outcome is a sure shot. She with a lifelong love of the game and an encyclopedic knowledge of her players vs. the slimy salesman who sees the team as a money machine--is that a tough call?

Frank Langella is just not credible as a Texas-style mogul astride a white horse. As actors, the basketball players just don't sizzle. Lisa Ann Walter, as Whoopi's buddy Claudine, gives things a lift when she's on, and Troy Beyer sparkles for a moment as a player's wife, but this is an otherwise lifeless cast.

Whoopi Goldberg is probably the only woman around who can hold her own in a huddle of seven-foot-tall men. Playing it mostly as slapstick, she allows herself sharp injections of real integrity that remind us of how good she is. When Wild Bill says, "I got me a circus, and you're my clown," we know Whoopi will create Eddie's revenge. Anger brings forth purity in this fine comic actress, but even she can't bring this one back from the dead.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : Hollywood Pictures
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 1h40m

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