Ty Burr
August 18, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Erin Brockovich

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
126 minutes
Wide Release Date
03/17/00
performer
Albert Finney, Julia Roberts, Peter Coyote, Aaron Eckhart, Conchata Ferrell, Scotty Leavenworth, Irene Olga Lopez, Emily Marks, Julie Marks
director
Steven Soderbergh
Producers
Jersey Films
distributor
Jersey Films, Universal
author
Susannah Grant
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an B+

How you feel about Erin Brockovich the film will depend on how you feel about Erin Brockovich the character, and how you feel about Erin Brockovich the character will depend on how you feel about the F- word. I know, it doesn’t seem that big a deal in these Eminem-able times, but I watched the video during a weekend visit with my sainted old mum, and her ears just about flew off her head every time Julia Roberts opened her mouth.

Literal parental advisories aside, director Steven Soderbergh’s successful bid to have a mainstream smash hits all the expected stops in the smalltime-whistle-blower-brings-down-huge-corporation genre. You won’t mind, though, since Roberts is in full-on movie-star mode as a tough-talking single mom uncovering Pacific Gas & Electric’s toxic secrets and Soderbergh spins his clichés with verve and professionalism. If he trowels on the blue-collar empathy to the point where you may feel sorry for Veanne Cox’s cold-fish corporate lawyer, Albert Finney offers balance through his crisp underplaying of Erin’s boss. Sure, this covers the same territory as A Civil Action, and John Travolta doesn’t cuss as much — but he wouldn’t look nearly as good in a push-up bra. B+

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