ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  the weitz bros.

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  87 minutes

RELEASED  -  16 february 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  paramount pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  down to earth

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $30,000,000
down to earth - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from down to earth at

buy the dvd from down to earth at

lance is a budding comedian who is hit by a bus and dies before his time. wishing to return to earth, but unable to inhabit his former body, he is placed in the corpse of a rich, white manhattan mogul.

many of the comedy routines used in the movie were on chris rock's "bigger and blacker" album.


picture from down to earth

picture from down to earth

picture from down to earth


zero out of four possible stars

When Chris Rock put it all out there by acting, producing, and helping to write Down to Earth, he took a big chance. And it seems like that chance blew up in his face in the form of an eighty minute film that seems more like a stand-up comedy special on HBO than a feature film. After the first twenty minutes or so, when this film got into swing, I couldn't help but notice that in almost every scene I recognized bits and pieces of dialogue that were lifted directly from Rock's stand-up routines. The same thing happened several times in Lethal Weapon 4.

And although Rock does play an aspiring stand-up comedian in this film, the plot kind of stalled each time Rock took the stage to say a few jokes. Now, this didn't happen while Chris was actually on the stage in the film. It only felt awkward during scenes where Rock's character was interacting with other people in what was supposed to be normal back and forth dialogue when instead, it sounded like a two minute stand-up routine. That's not to say rock's jokes weren't funny. Because, for the most part, they were pretty entertaining. And even though I'd heard some of them before (Rock really likes to recycle his jokes), his delivery is kind of unique, so seeing him perform them wasn't a punishment.

But I can't say the same for the story. It's a remake of the 1978 of the film Heaven Can Wait that was written by Warren Beatty and Elaine May. Now, I haven't seen the original movie, but in this remake, there doesn't seem to be a lot going on. The plot just kind of hums along without any twists or turns. I wasn't looking for Agatha Christie, but a story that at least pretends to be something interesting shouldn't have been that hard to create. Perhaps the story really didn't have time to develop. The film is so short that it almost seems like they made the first hour and then decided to end the movie without a third act. Maybe the budget was spiraling out of control, or maybe there were problems on the set. Or maybe they just ran out of script.

Whatever the reason, this film hums along fine for the first hour and then goes about ending the film as fast as possible. I was very surprised when the credits began to roll so early. I felt that there could have been an entire third act, and that the film ended too soon for the story to be complete. Of course, the story wasn't that great to begin with, so perhaps they threw out the third act after seeing the reactions to a few test screenings of this film. But I think the story could have been improved somewhat if the filmmakers had thrown in a few curve balls. As it was, the story really only served as a forum for Chris Rock to shout out some of his stand-up routine.

As for the other actors in the film, possibly the best character in the film was "Wanda," played by Wanda Sykes. Although her character was somewhat stereotypical, she had some of the best dialogue in the film. Her lines weren't always the funniest, but she had the best delivery of any actor in the film. Chazz Palminteri wasn't too impressive playing god's under-boss, but his partner, "Keyes," played by Eugene Levy was a kick in the pants. Like his performance in Best in Show, his character was one of the funniest and probably most under-appreciated of the film.

Frankie Faison, playing Rock's agent, "Whitney Daniels," also gives a solid performance, considering that the story he was given to work with wasn't that hot. It seemed a little unbelievable though that Regina King, who plays Rock's love interest, "Sontee," could fall in love with a fifty-five year old man. When Rock's character gets hit by a bus, he dies prematurely. And to make it up to him, the guys in heaven give him a temporary body. The body just happens to be from an aging white guy who has about as much black pride as a lynch mob.

Rock's character must then make Sontee fall in love with him, even though he's trapped in the body of an old man. Throughout the film, the audience usually sees rock speaking with sontee, so it looks kind of normal, but all the while, she's running around with an old white guy. There are a few shots where the camera acts as the perspective of people who see Rock's character as the old man with Sontee's hanging all over him with a smile. It's really hard to believe. Perhaps it's supposed to fit in there with the "Beauty is on the Inside" lesson, but if that is the case, the characters weren't explored enough to make the relationship between them real. In the end, it could be said that this case is just about the comedy, and that the story doesn't really matter.

That sentiment can be easily backed up by the fact that during the few serious moments in the film, where Chris Rock was in the scene and he couldn't seem to pull off the right tone for the dialogue. This film was nothing more than eighty-two minutes of a Chris Rock stand-up routine. So far in his acting career, rock has failed to show that he can be a viable lead in a major Hollywood film. Perhaps, when presented with a more worthy script, he will prove his past record wrong.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs paramount pictures 2001
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