Written for Luther College Chips on April 13, 2000
Julia Roberts is back with yet another hit in “Erin Brockovich.” Roberts has consistently been Hollywood’s top female box office draw since “Pretty Woman” came out ten years ago and after attempts to make more dramatic films in the mid-90s (such as “Mary Reilly”) failed to draw an audience, Roberts returned to lighter, more audience-friendly comedies. In many ways, “Erin Brockovich” is a continuation of that move, although it does touch on more dramatic issues.
Based on a true story, Roberts stars as the title character Brockovich. She is a single mother of three who, after a long unemployment streak, gets a job at a law firm owned by Ed Masry (played by veteran actor Albert Finney). Brockovich uncovers an environmental cover-up by a large utilities company and helps bring about a massive lawsuit. Along the way, she has a romance with her biker neighbor George (who loves kids) played by a relatively unknown Aaron Eckhart
Roberts gives a solid performance, I’ll let Moid comment on her wardrobe for the film. Finney is very likable in his role as the friendly lawyer who helps Brockovich out. Eckhart is annoying at first, but grows on you throughout the film. A bit of a surprise behind the camera is director Steven Soderbergh, who is probably best known for “Out of Sight,” a great critically acclaimed that was not very well known. In this film, we only see flashes of the generally cool camera work and editing style that dripped from “Out of Sight.”
“Erin Brockovich” really didn’t set well with me. It features the typical underdog story whose purpose is to make you feel good walking out of the theater. And I’m not going to deny that I felt good leaving the theater, but a satisfying ending doesn’t make up for two hours of dullness. Somehow, this film needed to be much shorter, or something had to be done to pace it better, I was ready for it to wind down half an hour before it finally did.
Further, Robert’s character in the film isn’t a very likable person, with her behavior in many cases being downright obnoxious. I understand that this is supposed to be a comedy and Brockovich’s brashness is meant to generate laughs, but most of the time her behavior was just distracting, but rather funny. Maybe I just wasn’t getting the jokes, but a character that insults her allies in virtually every scene isn’t someone that I was enthusiastically cheering for. However, this was what enabled her to fight for what she believed in.
With the huge grosses that “Erin Brockovich” has made over the last two weekends, Americans must be finding something that they like about the film. It’s not an altogether bad movie, just one that isn’t very memorable. With a sad lineup of movie out in theaters right now, “Erin Brockovich” is drawing audiences, but a year from now this will be just another forgotten hit.