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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.05%
Worth A Look56.96%
Average: 8.86%
Pretty Bad: 5.7%
Total Crap: 4.43%

11 reviews, 92 user ratings

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Erin Brockovich
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by Scott Weinberg

"The only bad thing about this movie is the way it's being marketed."
4 stars

Julia Roberts once again opens her mouth to smile, and everyone is split down the middle: Those who love her madly, and those who can't stand her miles of teeth and ridiculously long legs. I'm of the former persuasion, and that's because she's a pretty solid actress now as well. She may eventually win an Oscar or two, but as it stands right now, she's the closest thing we have to an 'old-fashioned movie star'. Her mere presence can elevate most films, but in this case she actually has a good MOVIE surrounding her.

Erin Brockovich is being advertised mainly as simply vehicle for Ms. Roberts (and her newly-impressive breasts). While this marketing may have been wholly accurate in the cases of Notting Hill and Runaway Bride, her latest feature is actually a completely entertaining and even smart little movie. Her cleavage has gotten most of the press surrounding this one, and although it does feature prominently in many scenes, it's not merely for a cheap thrill. Her Erin is sexy, loud and profane, but she's playing a real person here, so it's not just some throwaway technique. Watching her scream profanities and using her Wonderbra as a weapon, you start to believe this is an authentic person. OK, maybe the real Erin Brockovich isn't so sexy, but hey, this is a movie after all.

After being turned down for numerous menial jobs and getting smashed up in a car crash, Erin plops her butt down in her lawyer's office and demands a job. Almost immediately she is intrigued by one case in particular, that of a possible water contamination in a small local town. After meeting with a few residents, she is certain that the local power company is completely to blame for the rash of horrible sicknesses plaguing the town.

Her boss, attorney Ed Masry, agrees to take the case, and the unlikely pair go about digging up all the dirt possible. Adding to Erin's sudden workload is the fact that she has three small children, but no husband to help out. There is a nice guy next door who's willing to babysit, who may indeed be the world's nicest (and cleanest) biker guy you'd ever want to meet.

Every time this movie seems like it will veer into tired cliches, it instead offers the facts quite honestly, and with a minimum of schamltz. Julia doesn't have several "outrage" speeches at what has happened to these poor folk, and there's no big courtroom tirade scene at the end. Director Soderbergh instead presents numerous small scenes of tension, frustration, guilt and anger. Scenes move themselves forward, instead of seeming like filler in between 'more important' exchanges. Not every detail in this movie is crucial, and it's more real because of that. Not every character has to do something big and important, like in real life.

Susannah Grant's smart and tight script has a lot to do with the success of this movie. She portrays her main characters as real people, not as symbols. Erin is no saint. Ed Masry (her boss) is a successful, but modest and pleasant man. Biker boyfriend George is a sweet and unassuming guy, despite his rough appearance and howling motorcycle.

With actors of this caliber, the characters are given the lives they deserve. Julia really does shine here, and her performance is a great example of how far she's come: She's smart but not brilliant. She's also driven and opinionated, but at the same time she's vulgar and temperamental. It's basically the best work of her career so far. Albert Finney lends great authority and craftiness to his role of Ed Masry, but he also shows us the vulnerable and intimidated side. (Not what actors generally showcase when playing lawyers.) As George, Allan Eckhart strips away anything resembling artifice in a part that seems like a no-win situation. He shows that not every movie character who rides a Harley has to be a rude, disgusting slob. George is as reliable as any businessman is; he only looks like a Hell's Angel.

The worst move a film like this can make is objectifying the injured parties, or making them simple plot devices. (Grr! Those idiot folk were poisoned by the evil corporations!) The various townsfolk here are shown as simple American types who have been royally screwed by corporate screw-ups and lies. They are not portrayed as moronic hicks or money-grubbing lawsuit seekers. As with the main characters, the 'little people' are treated with respect and honesty by the filmmakers.

A perfect example of why this movie works: Late in the movie, George is about to take Erin's kids out for breakfast, while she sleeps in. He tells her that he needs to use her car, since his motorcycle obviously can't seat three kids. She tells him to hurry back, as she needs the car to get to court. I was expecting either A) him being late and her having to show up at the courthouse on his huge Harley or B) he would be in some nasty car accident, forcing her to choose between her family or her job. Neither happens, because it's just some conversation. It's just a small bit of realistic dialogue. Most movies don't have things like that. (In any other movie, something bad would have to happen. The earlier dialogue would only be there to set up the later incident.) Dialogue like this is a small touch that I noticed, but it represents why the whole movie is a success.

While it's a solid drama in the vein of Norma Rae or An Unmarried Woman, it's also damn funny. Julia Roberts and Albert Finney work wonderfully together, as they slowly gain more respect for each other. There are also numerous entertaining bits revolving around Erin's wardrobe and her inability to get along with her co-workers. And while the importance of Erin's kids is ever-present, it is depicted in a light any single working mother would respect.

Erin Brockovich is an intelligent and involving movie that doesn't pander to its audience. While it may push the right emotional buttons, it does so with wit and subtlety and you'll appreciate that the main points aren't rammed down your throat. Steven Soderbergh pulls off a minor miracle by avoiding nearly every cliche available, and making something like this seem fresh.

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originally posted: 04/01/00 12:34:59
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell soild flick JULIA IS GREAT 4 stars
7/31/09 Ulla I love Julia...but why does she portray Erin as a slutty dresser? It makes women look bad 2 stars
2/09/09 Samantha Pruitt great acting, Julia Roberts really shines in this! 5 stars
11/17/08 Sol Not the most exciting, but somehow deserves the awards it's got. 4 stars
2/08/07 David Pollastrini RIP Ed Masry 4 stars
11/30/06 jenna i think that this was an awesome movie and julia roberts is an inspiring actress and woman. 5 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies Great movie, was pleasantly surprised. Best performance by Julia Roberts 4 stars
6/05/06 Jess Bloody Awesome! 5 stars
10/19/05 Sinead Kane One of the best films every made 5 stars
8/26/05 Michael Liked it a lot ... too much swearing though 5 stars
7/28/05 Wc IT PARALYZE ME! 5 stars
2/02/05 Steve Michaud Roberts won an Oscar for this? Over Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem for a Dream"? What a sham. 4 stars
12/17/04 Ken Cenerelli Slow in parts but otherwise a worthy oscar winner. 4 stars
12/12/04 Charlene Javier Julia deserves every bit of that Oscar! 5 stars
12/08/04 frosty Something to chew on. 4 stars
12/06/04 Julie The moral tone of this film is disgusting. 1 stars
9/27/04 Edelyn Baja very nice movie. 5 stars
4/06/04 Agent Sands I get tired of the cocky Brockovich monologues, but all otherwise is excellent. 4 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser One of the best true-life dramas I have ever seen! Julia is excellent!!! 5 stars
11/01/03 Tell Shit Like Shit Is Decent fable. Too bad the previews made her seem like Erin Blockhead Bitch! 4 stars
10/06/03 John Bale Fiesty Roberts uses her obvious physical assets to advantage in a fine performance 4 stars
8/06/03 Sarrah Smith awesome! i made it into my thesis. 5 stars
7/27/03 Mr. Hat I'd have sex with Julia Roberts! I think Finney & Soderbergh did well, if a bit Hollywood. 4 stars
6/27/03 cochese Julia Roberts is among the top ten most annoying people in the world. This movie SUCKS. 1 stars
5/31/03 ReptilesNi Marg Helenberger would've made a better Erin. Julia's range is extremely limited. 3 stars
2/11/03 Pinkline Jones Very good film - Roberts' Oscar thoroughly deserved 4 stars
12/28/02 Rayna Kuzio Great movie!! Definately will buy for my collection! 5 stars
11/26/02 R.W. Welch Finney is priceless and Roberts effective though the pic drags in spots. 4 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Julia's Best Performance is still Notting Hill. 4 stars
11/08/02 Tell Shit Like Shit Is Decent fable. Too bad the previews made her seem like Erin Blockhead Bitch! 4 stars
9/26/02 snowconehead lies, lies, and more wonderbra lies 2 stars
4/12/02 Sara Goldfarb's Red Dress Hey Jules, Mr Ed wants his teeth back.. 1 stars
3/27/02 Chris żĄ Oh, What a great movie. I had a smile on my face the whole time. 5 stars
1/24/02 Geo7654 Julia Roberts is look at, but the plot is just isn't interesting enough 3 stars
1/17/02 carmen lafuente a very good film 5 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick i agree with travis - and i was so unintrigued, even i was starting to like her hooties. 3 stars
1/06/02 Andrew Carden The Direction and Production Is Very Unique, but It's Too Serious. 3 stars
12/31/01 adil moutanabbi Erin just made the woman figure a true pair of breasts, totally missfit in that domain . 3 stars
12/02/01 travis r. sorensen OVERRATED!!!!!!!!-but julia roberts has nice hooties 3 stars
10/31/01 ss good 4 stars
10/22/01 P.Rodriguez U Gotta Love Her Mams. Decent Movie Also. 4 stars
9/09/01 Gary Good dialogue, but standard fare overall. Julia was great, but Linney shudda got the Oscar. 3 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm Biker boyfriend far more authentic than Julia's chest. 3 stars
8/19/01 Dr. Thompson Is this supposed to be a hero? Ambulance chasing slut? 1 stars
4/28/01 nayana Das good movie 4 stars
4/13/01 Piz One of those "Ive seen this one before" type of films, where everyone root for the underdog 4 stars
4/09/01 Gary Good movie. I loved Roberts in it, but I liked her in Stepmom better. 5 stars
3/27/01 Kaarina Hautaniemi Now it is time for Julia Roberts to get that glamorous Oscar-statue. Good work! 5 stars
3/23/01 Neil Labute If Julia Roberts wins best actress, it ll be a fucking joke. 3 stars
3/21/01 Jake Silkwood, anyone? 1 stars
3/07/01 Mike steve how did you make traffic? 1 stars
2/21/01 Elvisfan Decent, solid movie but not Oscar worthy for anyone involved 3 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Julia hasn't had a better role before or since, and she plays it like she knows it. 4 stars
2/13/01 Egg36 Dull story, but Julia Roberts is great eye-candy. 2 stars
2/06/01 Doug An amazing film and Julie deserves an Oscar 5 stars
1/29/01 Nic Like usual, Julia Roberts puts on a superb performance. But, then, when hasn't she?! 5 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 Hey Julia, Nice tits!!!! Standard film, but excellent perf by the tits. 3 stars
1/04/01 stacey james fuckin brilliant movie and bite my ass all those who dont agree 5 stars
10/27/00 bob mitchell superb casting for the story line. 5 stars
9/11/00 Terrie Smith Well written by Grant; good direction by Soderbergh. Let's not forget Julia either. 4 stars
8/29/00 Monday Morning I don't know about an Oscar but Julia's body deserves some kind of award. Great movie too. 4 stars
8/18/00 Girl 9 A little long but well done nonetheless. Some good acting for Julia Roberts 4 stars
7/13/00 Tom I never thought I would say this: Julia Roberts gives an excellent performance. 4 stars
7/12/00 Linda Hilarious but serious 5 stars
5/12/00 Dasha I'll never underesimate Julia Roberts again. Wow, she rocks here. 4 stars
4/21/00 Matthew Smith Julia roberts gives one of her best performances to date 5 stars
4/19/00 Sara GREAT!! 5 stars
4/13/00 punkass Someday all average films will be this good. A step down for Soderbergh 3 stars
4/10/00 lazt good story,great performances..see it. 5 stars
4/10/00 Richard Wright This had a very intelligent plot and some great dialogue. And no slushy music!!! YEAH!! 4 stars
4/10/00 kohawk I'd rather take a shotgun blast in the face than see this flick 1 stars
4/07/00 Mr C Excellent, witty, and entertaining 5 stars
4/07/00 Tim Julia Roberts was funny as hell in this movie and was believable 5 stars
4/02/00 Chef ADogg Nice cleavage. Bonus points for anchoring them with a decent movie. 4 stars
4/02/00 Captain Highcrime Impressive adaptation of what could've easily become TV movie fare. 4 stars
3/29/00 LC Did anyone else think of Silkwood while watching this film? Bigger boobs in this one though 4 stars
3/25/00 Chartsy Aaron Eckhart, where have you been all my life? 4 stars
3/24/00 Wafer Julia Roberts was great but it was a little long 4 stars
3/23/00 Chuckie I didnt know that one dirt poor woman could afford so many boob revealing outfits. 3 stars
3/23/00 Jenifer The movie gives struggling,single moms the hope for a better life for their children 5 stars
3/23/00 Movie Freek Despise Julia Roberts, but she gives the performance of the year in this terrific film! 5 stars
3/22/00 Joel Harwood JULIA ROBERTS GETS BETTER THAN EVER 5 stars
3/21/00 JonnyAngel a nice surprise 4 stars
3/21/00 El Tigre I am not a Julia Roberts fan, but I think she is great in this very entertaining smart film 5 stars
3/21/00 Paige Much better than I expected. Definitely worth seeing. 4 stars
3/21/00 Justine Briggs I thought the movie was great, very enjoyable. 5 stars
3/21/00 Bart Entertaining. Julia is a Star not an Actress. Pretty woman goes "trailer park." 4 stars
3/20/00 Louis Pretty good, a little bit long 4 stars
3/19/00 "Persnickety "Jenn pretty damn good, you rock julia! 5 stars
3/19/00 Malbert Another wonderful movie for Julia Roberts, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did 5 stars
3/19/00 Mr Glute If you've waited for Julia to do something interesting, she's finally done it. 4 stars
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  17-Mar-2000 (PG-13)


  13-Apr-2000 (M)

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