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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
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"It appears and then is quite apparent it's nothing more than a star vehicle"
2 stars

Julia Roberts alone can be enough to merit the viewing of a movie, such as the case with Pretty Woman or Notting Hill. Roberts can't be praised for her selection of parts, and often she can either leave you amazed (The Pelican Brief) or in shock for banality (Sleeping with the Enemy). As if she didn't send us mixed enough wires last year with the aforementioned Hill and the absolutely horrible Runaway Bride, Erin Brockovich finds itself right in the middle, and Roberts can do nothing to pull it out of patches of boredom.

Erin Brockovich is being highly totted for being based on the true story of Erin Brockovich, a twice divorced mother of three who eventually won $333 million dollars (not mentioned in previews: for her clients) from a water company. Problem is, given the fact that you know "her case" wins -it's blatantly in the trailers-it becomes uninteresting to follow the story with specifics just to find out what information they've already shared.

The Hollywood hyperbole of Erin has her as an out-and-down-on-luck-gal who just can't seem to make ends meet. The movie opens with a collage of job interviews of Erin, cross-cutting between minute monologues of what she cannot do yet, but can learn to do quickly. After the same responses across the board (I presume) she gets in a car accident and hires lawyer Ed Masry (Albert Finney). Much to her luck after an outburst while on stand, she loses. So after a week or so, Erin demands a job from him and won't leave until she gets one. Obviously she does get one, and while going over a case to help her understand it more (note: she is not a lawyer), she gets permission to investigate some of the technicalities. Along the way, she gets a Harley Davidson riding neighbor, George (Aaron Eckhart), who no matter how rough and tough looking, squeezes his way to becoming her children's new babysitter.

One thing leads to another and she finds out that the water company, PG & E, has been knowingly filling its water with hexavalent chromium ("highly toxic, highly carcinogenic") and has caused widespread sickness to the residents of the small town of Hinkley. Erin crusades to win the families some decent money and convinces Masry to take the whole thing on (he has to fund it himself). Being the determined woman she's made to appear, Erin goes to the greatest of lengths to achieve what needs be done including the acquiring of 600 signatures to bring the case to another level in court (the technicalities can be more easily explained and understood in the movie). Like Superwoman, she does it.

Yes, it's great that the mislead peoples of Hinkley were compensated for their medical expenses and troubles, though no sum of money can equal the amount of pain and suffering many of those families endured and the permanent travesties that cannot be reversed. But too much of Erin Brockovich is nothing more than canned inspiration. Eccentric woman-cum-city heroine uses previously dormant abilities to save/help a busload of needy or disadvantaged people. Sure we like when we hear about these stories in newscasts or in magazine articles, but generally those sources of information spare us the tedious details which aren't pertinent to the development of the event. And especially in courtroom battles and disputes it makes it easier on us to have those details alluded to instead of played out. One of the biggest problems with Erin Brockovich is that much of both the broad side and the small side are too small and uninteresting to make a movie out of. So when the picture has the whole outcome advertised it seems simply absurd to sit through a two-hour plus movie where all the questions are answered on posters, commercials and TV spots.

The movie has a talented cast, and the shoulder placement of Roberts' character's status is no wonder why she took the role. She's entertaining to watch but a lot of this movie is shoving her down your throat and her character can be quite irritable. Erin is a hard character to like, and considering she's the whole of the movie, it makes it difficult to sit through if you can't tolerate her. The Erin portrayed on screen is brass, pushy, nave, and often she is downright annoying. Now, to base the entirety of the movie on her, no matter what she achieved, is a risk because it doesn't give you any room to maneuver your feelings of the character. But at least she isn't being the darling cutie-pie (she gets to be a lot more scurrilous, with her most common vulgarity being something with 'fuck' in it), although sometimes it looked like it took convincing for her to get that. Albert Finney has a decent run as Masry, and personally I could feel his pain as he was forced to deal with the childlike tantrums of Erin as if he personally needed her consent for every decision he had to make in regards to the case. Granted, none of it would have been possible without her, but he is the determining voice in the matter. Marg Helgenberger and Cherry Jones turn up for two opposing roles of the denizens of the city, and each bring their own special nuances to the role. (I only wish there could have been more of Jones, who, when last appeared in Cradle Will Rock, was all but too often obscured from the revolving plot as well.) As for Eckhart, his subdued performance was much more low-key compared to his extraneous efforts in his prior two films, In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, both directed by Neil LaBute. However, if it is of any interest, he must have been one of the nicest tattooed "biker dudes" portrayed on screen without having any ulterior motives (again, at least not explored on screen).

Erin Brockovich is an interesting turn for director Steven Soderbergh. My curiosity lies in what attracted him to such a project. The old saying is, "to each his own," but in the past Soderbergh has proved his creativity in the selection of his movies. Generally, Soderbergh has either had a proclivity towards the quirky, such as sex, lies and videotape, Kafka, and Schizopolis or the more "in" or "cool" movies like Out of Sight or The Limey. I myself prefer the quirky he's done, and I admired Out of Sight for the fun of it, and even his closely detailed period piece King of the Hill (not to be confused with the syndicated cartoon show). I wouldn't consider him the odd ball out, but he's always seemed to stray from the big lights with the exception of Sight, but then again with this, it's funded by two major studios: Universal and Columbia. So as far as his motives for choice, I'm clueless. But I don't think the material is conducive with him, and not vise-versa.

Like one of the patchy "feel good movies of the year" last year, Music of the Heart, or the year before with Patch Adams, the feeling of the manipulation in the script is growing greater. For obvious reasons most real life adapted stories need somewhat of a fixing, but the thick Hollywood Makeover that movies like these are getting have become overly picture perfect, and it hurts the development or the attachment you get from the movie. The growth that you go through is cut off prematurely and never can quite regain the feeling it began. Another problem here might be the screenwriter, Susannah Grant, who previous to this has only done some work on the TV show Party of Five. I give her the credit of patching the story up to The Hollywood Standard, but she includes more than enough small things that was not pertinent for our knowledge and contribution of the story. It's just that I found the majority of dialogue and conversation to be quick cash-ins with aphorisms and epigrams. (After all the 600 have signed the petition, a big-wig lawyer who had collaborated and financed part of the case looks on flabbergasted. Roberts retorts with, "Seeing that I have no brains or law expertise, I just went over and performed 634 sexual favors. Boy, and I tired." Everything is along those lines.) The problems become the unbelievablity of the dialogue and the declination of how everything she says turning out to be some pertinent epiphany or saving grace. Erin Brockovich's biggest problem is Erin Brockovich herself. No amount of quick wits or silly reference to the '80s hooker-style clothes she wears is enough to make you like her, and in a movie where everything to the title is done after her, it's hard to get a universal or even partial positive reception to it.

Final Verdict: C

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originally posted: 03/18/00 05:10:58
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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 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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