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 Eminemable 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 pushup bra.