Watcher Beware! Ed Wood has a handful of uses of “f-g” and related slurs, and an uncomfortable spoken description of a transwoman.

Edward D. Wood Jr. is a stand up guy. He doesn’t take no for an answer, quickly learns from his romantic mistakes, and does his very best to help his friends in need. He’s admirably comfortable in his own skin. He’s driven by his dreams and an expert at making do with what he has. He is also the creator of some of the worst films ever made- but he’s sure the next one will do better.

In a nutshell, that’s Ed Wood, arguably the best existing vehicle for both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. In a single word: it’s fun. Ed and company’s production romps look like nothing so much as teen filmmakers with their first camera and scripts they think will change the world. They’re not entirely wrong.

A low level production assistant in 1950s Hollywood, Ed overhears some coworkers discussing a producer buying the rights to a transwoman’s biopic. Ed tracks down the producer and presents himself earnestly as the perfect director- he is, he cheerfully confides, a closeted transvestite. Convinced the role was made for him, and vice versa, Ed writes, stars in, and records Glen or Glenda in record time, without permits, and mostly in single “perfect” takes. In the process, he ends his engagement (she was unaware that the closet existed) and strikes up a legendary friendship with an aged Bela Lugosi.

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From there, Ed Wood follows his career through Plan 9 From Outer Space, capturing highs and lows and the ever-growing ragtag production company (including Bill Murray, Jeffrey Jones, and Lisa Marie as Vampira). Pacing is excellent with several in-jokes- consider the colorblind cameraman in a black and white movie- and intelligent use of set pieces.

Ed is extremely likeable if painfully misguided; it’s a difficult story to watch, and requires some suspended disbelief to truly enjoy. If you’re willing to hold your breath and your judgment, it’s a very worthy ride.

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