Projections - Movie Reviews

Down to Earth

Down to Earth

There should have been long, large and loud alarms going off in my head when I saw the unlikely combination of Chris Rock and a PG-13 rating.  Rock gained his fame from his rough and tumble X-rated standup comedy and to think talent can be tamed to a PG-13 rating with a poor script is simply insane.

Down to Earth is a remake of a remake.  The original (circa 1941) Here Comes Mr. Jordan and the fist attempt of a remake (circa 1978) Heaven Can Wait, while not being Oscar material are simply significantly better films.  In the current manifestation, Rock plays a wanna-be standup comedian named Lance Barton who has more soul than talent.  Through the actions of a bumbling angel named Keyes (Euene Levy), Lance is taken to heaven 40 years too early and now must be returned to Earth in a new body.  Imagine the surprise of Lance to discover that his new body will be that of the 15th most wealthy man on the planet who happens to be in his 50s, white, and only concerned with gathering more wealth.

Add into the story a love interest played by a wonderful African American actress named Regina King and the story gets even more unlikely.  There are moments where humor is present, but not when Rock is on screen.  The comedy is from the screen time given to his new white middle aged body doing only what a 20s black man should be doing or saying.  Perhaps if Rock had simply provided the voice and not the body, the film could have played out better.  Seeing a middle aged white guy delivering what is traditionally black humor to a black audience was almost painful and yet humorous.

The real problem was constraining Rock to a PG-13 environment.  When unleashed, Rock is one of the best comedians on stage today.  When harnessed to a poor script and a rating noose, Rock  is doomed to fall as quickly as any rock would when released from 30,000 feet.

 
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Down to Earth
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