Erin Brockovich (2000)

ERIN BROCKOVICH is both the new Julia Roberts flick and the latest
from director Steven Soderburgh, whose last two films, THE LIMEY
and OUT OF SIGHT, were two of the best of their respective release
years.  This equally satisfying character drama is based on the
true story of a zero-experience legal secretary (and cash-strapped
single-mother-of-three) who uncovers (and subsequently successfully
investigates) a groundwater contamination conspiracy involving a
California utility company and, eventually, some six-hundred plain-
tiffs.  (The offending substance, Chromium, is both a medical haz-
ard and a *generational* hazard, 'cause it actually alters a per-
son's DNA.)  Be forewarned: this isn't a big-name movie.  Roberts,
Albert Finney as her boss, and a late-appearing Peter Coyote are
the sole "stars."  The rest are played by lesser-knowns and charac-
ter actors.  (Even the real Ms. B. appears as a waitress in an ear-
ly scene.  She's a babe...)

Nor is EB structured as a conventional crowd-pleaser.  Important
action and relevant dialogue often occurs *off*-screen.  In fact, 
the film is ultimately *less* about a court case and more about 
Erin and her interactions with her boss, her biker-dude boyfriend, 
and the various victims she begins to bond with.  (Roberts feuding 
with Finney is the source of the film's best, f-word peppered fire-
works.)  It's a role that recalls PRETTY WOMAN-- complete with 
short skirts and titty tops-- and Ms. Roberts is extraordinarily 
appealing it.  Too bad she never disappears as deeply into the 
character as we might like.  (We're always aware that we're watch-
ing *her* and not her character.)  Finney, excellent, functions as 
both a foil and a second banana of sorts.  He even steals a little 
thunder, from time to time, with a well-placed retort.  (Such as 
the classic closing line.)  All in all, a recommendable film, de-
spite the periodically sluggish pacing.  Or the occasionally stray-
ing POV.  And despite at least one nagging question about the dol-
lar amount of the final settlement:  Are those millions *really* 
enough to cover all present and future medical bills?  I lose per-
spective after too many zeros...  With Conchata Ferrell, Marg Hel-
genberger, and an utterly unrecognizable Aaron Eckhart as the Har-
ley Guy.  (Rated "R"/130 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Pretty Woman and Pro Wrestling

Home   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros - Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros