Ed's Next Move (1996) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for language and some sexuality
Running Time: 88 min.

Cast: Matt Ross, Callie Thorne, Kevin Carroll, Ramsey Faragallah, Cathy Curtin
Director:  John Walsh
Screenplay: John Walsh

Review published March 30, 2003

Ed's Next Move is the kind of quirky goodness many come to expect when it comes to independent films that fit the mold of a romantic comedy.  Usually, these come off better than the big budget Hollywood variety, and Woody Allen built a long and prolific career making just these sorts of films.  Probably the biggest reason why indie films generally handle them better is due to the small scope, because in Hollywood, once the screenwriters, producers, and big-name actors have gotten done dissecting it, all of the witty observations and personal truths have been sucked out in an attempt to make things palatable to the mass audience

This is the first film by writer/director John Walsh, utilizing a budget of a meager $90,000 to create, though you'd never know it from the appearance.  It's a snappy script, chock full of funny bits and witty insights, with characters that seem well-rounded even if we don't get to know them too well in the short duration.  Most of the humor comes from the look at New York's yuppie lifestyle, which must seem ridiculous to someone walking among it for the first time.

This is especially true in Ed's case, as he has recently relocated from Wisconsin, shortly after being dumped by his girlfriend, and finding a new job as a scientist, studying the genetic compositions of rice grains in an attempt to solve world hunger problems.  He's a lonely guy looking for love, a situation which is only made worse since his roommate finds girls left and right.  After striking out trying to meet women at parties and museums, he ends up meeting a woman named Natalie at a nearby diner, and his attraction is immediate.  However, hers isn't, as Ed is a little square, but then they both are witness to a parking accident later.  Ed uses the situation to attempt to date Natalie, but she is resistant to his advances, but he's determined in his pursuits.

In addition to Walsh's winning script, Ed's Next Move benefits from as good a cast of inexperienced actors as one might reasonably hope for in a film of this budget.  Matt Ross has a look and mannerism that makes him instantly likeable, a sweet charm that makes him perfect for the Wisconsin boy-next-door nice guy he is meant to be.  Callie Thorne does well as Natalie, who spends her evenings playing in a Bohemian folk band, refreshingly portrayed as a mixed-up about her feelings, which more often than not, is usually the case in people struggling to find a solid relationship.  Kevin Carroll, who also would appear in Walsh's next film, Pipe Dream, makes for a funny contrast in a roommate for Ed, and even though he is promiscuous in his relationships, its very telling when its revealed that he and Ed share the same feelings of loneliness.

Ed's Next Move is a funny, charming and sweet-natured light comedy that will please those who enjoy independent films with unique characters and observations about the New York dating scene.  While not much money was invested in the film, plenty was invested in the characters, and it pays off with a satisfying 90 minutes of pleasant times and comical situations.  In a time when Woody Allen has struggled to regain the form he once had, its reassuring to know that there are other filmmakers continuing down the road he paved to represent the small stories of New York, giving us a small slice of life taken out of the Big Apple.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo