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Chris Rock stars in this remake of Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait (itself a
remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan), a comedy about a man who
dies before his time, before he can realize his dreams, and his adventures
in his new (albeit temporary) body. In the Beatty version, the protagonist
was a backup quarterback for the then-Los Angeles Rams. In Rock's hipper
version, our lead character is a struggling young - and decidedly
- standup comedian.
It's very funny to see the razor-sharp Rock playing a bad comedian. It's kind of like seeing Tom Hanks play a bad actor. Lance Barton's dream is to play the legendary Apollo Theater on a non-amateur night. But every time he tries out his material, he's booed off the stage lustily - so much so that his nickname becomes "Booie." His jokes are lame, his delivery painful. In short, Lance is everything that the real Chris Rock isn't.
Lance is also a bike messenger, and he's riding the streets on his way to try out even more material when BAM! He's hit by a truck. Ok, so maybe he was taken from his body a tenth of a second early by a slightly incompetent angel (Eugene Levy), but hey, he was going to get hit anyway. No dice, it appears Lance isn't due in Heaven until 2044. So what to do? Mr. King (Chazz Palminteri), the "manager" of Heaven, reluctantly agrees to find a new body for the not-quite-dead Mr. Barton. Trouble is, the body they find is of a greedy, old white man. Turns out this fella (a Mr. Wellington) owns all kinds of things - he's the 15th richest man in the country! What luck! You can imagine how Lance will turn things around.
But of course, while in the body of the affluent Mr. Wellington, Lance falls for a gorgeous hospital worker (Regina King). We males know how tough it is to find a female given our own body, but try winning one over while you're an dumpy, old white guy! And it's even worse when she's not impressed by your money.
This is Rock's first shot at a lead role, and in my opinion he performs admirably. There's still a lot of the standup comedian in him - and, of course, if he ever wants to get diverse roles, he might have to stop incorporating standup routines into the script - but this isn't really a bad thing. Rock's personality - his drive, his delivery, his demeanor, and his passion - are what fuel this film. He's clearly having a lot of fun in the role, and he seems bent on making sure you have fun watching him.
There were some funny moments in this movie, but overall I was unimpressed.
I recognize that this movie is supposed to be a comedy, but it really fell
short of being funny. Why did they have to bring Rock back as an old white
man. The old white man really had nothing to do with the movie. Rock
didn't act like an old white man. He didn't look like the old white man (at
least not to the audience). He didn't even seem like he was an old white
man. Yet no one really cared.
Now, I know that this is supposed to be funny, but all I really felt was embarrassed.
Chris, until you can become a real actor, go back to stand up.
This movie is a remake of two movies that were a lot better. The last one, Heaven Can Wait, was great, I suggest you see that one. This one is not so great. The last third of the movie is not so bad and Chris Rock starts to show some of the comic fun that got him to where he is today. However, I don't know what happened to the first two parts of this movie. It plays like some really bad "B" movie where people sound like they are in some bad TV sit-com. The situations are forced and it is like they are just trying to get the story over so they can start the real movie. It all seems real fake and the editing is just bad. I don't know how they could release this movie like that. Anyway, the last part isn't to bad, so wait for the video and see it then.
Chris Rock is funny in this film, even if most of the rest of what he's
surrounded isn't. Rock has been able to elivate films with his outstanding
supporting roles including them in New Jack City, Dogma and Nurse Betty
(Betty and Dogma actually getting such a boost by him they got in my top ten
lists), but here, he is brought on the second time in a starring role.
While he is slightly funnier here than in CB4, he isn't as good as he
What Rock stars in is a remake of a remake that is probably from a play and that might also be a flaw. Rock and his staff of writers (ie Chris Rock show) do what they can with they're script about a flawful comedian named Lance who gets sent up to heaven to early and is sent back in a body for a short while, except the body is white. While many of the scenes with Rock as Lance inside the old white guy aren't laugh out loud funny, they are interesting for me being a Chris Rock fan (seeing a man like the one Chris gets himself into telling his famous Black Mall skit had me thinking while laughing). Not always on the money, to say the least, but it isn't a waste of total time. B
Chris Rock, apparently desperate for a cozy star-vehicle which would cross his appeal over to white and mainstream black audiences, updates the hit 1978 comedy "Heaven Can Wait" with an urban agenda. He plays a struggling comedian involved in a car accident who has his soul removed too soon from his body--consequently, his angels must find another body to place him in, and can only come up with that of a white businessman. Rewriting a movie as bland and sentimental as "Heaven Can Wait" only shows that Rock's eye was on the box-office (this was strictly a corporate move organized by the most mercenary of Hollywood players). Why not strive for something loftier or more memorable than a silly reincarnation comedy that culminates with an Evening at the Apollo? Terrific supporting cast (including the usually-reliable Regina King, the wonderful Mark Addy, Wanda Sykes, Eugene Levy, and terrific Frankie Faison) do what they can, but Rock seems awkward and unsure of himself throughout. *1/2 from ****
We rented it and I wasn't expecting much in the first place. . It just
looked like it would be another one of the endless comedies that come out
every year. This one should not have been on the big screen, nor should it
have gone straight to video. It was horrible!! I like Chris Rock, his
stand up is hilarious, and I loved him as Nat X on Saturday Night Live, and
he was good in New Jack City. But if he's going to be an actor, then do
some acting. .not that it was bad, but the material was
The story was as predictable as can be. . The worst parts were when they tried to get the audience emotionally involved, they tried to get us to care about these characters. WTF? We don't want "Steel Magnolias" or "Beaches", we want Chris Rock to be funny! He wasn't. . it was LAME. Common sense would dictate that we, the audience, should see rock as the white man, and hear him as the white man, doing the stand up. THAT would have been funny.
Anyway, this was pretty damn bad. 5/10 at best.. NOT funny, just a waste of time, but thank god it was pretty short.
Down to Earth is a sporadically funny movie starring Chris Rock. I thought the idea was creative (even though it is basically a remake of Heaven Can Wait). Rock is hilarious at times and so are some of the others. However, something is missing and I'm not sure what it is. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film and happen to be a big Chris Rock fan. It just needed a little more. You can probably wait until video to see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Chris Rock deserves better than he gives himself in "Down To Earth." As
directed by brothers Chris & Paul Weitz of "American Pie" fame, this
uninspired remake of Warren Beatty's 1978 fantasy "Heaven Can Wait,"
itself a rehash of 1941's "Here Comes Mr. Jordan," lacks the abrasively
profane humor that won Chris Rock an Emmy for his first HBO special.
Predictably, he spouts swear words from A to Z, but he consciously
avoids the F-word. Anybody who saw this gifted African-American comic
in "Lethal Weapon 4," "Dogma," or "Nurse Betty" knows he can elicit
more laughter with the F-word than Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy put
together. Sadly, despite a few witty one-liners, "Down To Earth" hits
Rock bottom both as a contrived comedy and an improbable interracial
"Down to Earth" utterly destroys any good will that the Weitz Brothers generated with their landmark gross-out face "American Pie." This disposable drivel qualifies as a contrived as well as confusing comedy with a thoroughly improbable color-blind interracial romance. Unfortunately, a more than competent castamong them "The Full Monty's" Mark Addy, Chazz Palminteri of "Analyze This," "SCTV's" Eugene Levy, and newcomer Brian Rhodes as Charles Wellington, Jr.are wasted in flat-footed, sketchy roles. Hardcore Rock fans will undoubtedly accuse their favorite comedian with trying to fix something that was never broken. Abysmally written by Lance Crouther, Ali Le Roi, Louis CK, and Rock, "Down To Earth" casts Chris as a messenger who rides a bike by day in the Big Apple and gets booed off the stage at night in Harlem's celebrated Apollo Theatre. Poor Lance Barton (Chris Rock) suffers from severe stage fright. Nevertheless, his charitable manager Whitney Daniels (Frankie Faison of "Hannibal") sticks with him through thick and thin. After Lance learns the Apollo Theatre will hold one final amateur night extravaganza, he implores Whitney to get him in the line-up. Excuse me, but if Lance is such a deadbeat stand-up comic, why does the Apollo keep inviting him back? Meanwhile, fate has something else in store for Lance. While pedaling home on his bike, our protagonist spots a pretty lady, Sontee (Regina King of "Jerry Maguire"), crossing the street, but he doesn't see the bus that collides with him and kills him. Wham! Lance Barton levitates skyward with a halo wreathed around his head. In Heaven, which resembles a cruise ship nightclub, Lance learns that an overzealous angel, Mr. Keyes (Eugene Levy of "Stay Tuned"), timed his death 40 years ahead of schedule.
Heavenly honcho Mr. King (Chazz Palminteri of "Analyze This"), God's right-hand guy, apologizes and escorts Lance back to earth. The snag is Lance cannot reclaim his corpse, so he must inhabit another body. The best that Mr. Keyes can come up with is ruthless, white, 60-year old tycoon Charles Wellington. Wellington's adulterous wife Amber (Jennifer Coolidge of "American Pie") and his unscrupulous personal aide Winston (Greg Germann of "Sweet November") have just tried to poison him. Reluctantly, before Wellington's body vanishes, Lance accepts it conditionally as a loaner until Keyes can locate a more appropriate body. Meanwhile, Lance-as-Wellington encounters Sontee again. She is a nurse activist protesting his decision to privatize a Brooklyn community hospital that serves the poor. While Regina King brings a surfeit of charisma to her role as a crusading health care worker, she plays a character who bypasses credible motivation in her affairs with Wellington. Although he is no longer black, Lance not only tries to woo Sontee but also win a gig at the Apollo.
"Down To Earth" features Rock in his most unfunny role. The comedian's reason for making this movie seems questionable. Reportedly, he ate lunch with Warren Beatty and told Beatty that he loved the original script that scenarist Elaine May had penned for Beatty. Initially, Beatty tried the race-reversal gimmick himself in his own version by trying to cast Muhammad Ali in the title role of "Heaven Can Wait." The deal fell through, and Beatty headlined the movie himself. According to Rock, his longtime co-writers and he thought that they could 'annihilate' this classic. Moreover, he justified his choice of "Heaven Can Wait" based on his philosophy to "Do Something you can only do when you're hot." Earlier, Rock rejected a script about a busload of touring rappers, because he saw little opportunity to stretch his image in such an outing. As a lifeless comedian in "Down to Earth," Rock doesn't so much stretch his image as he inverts it for the worst! This half-baked concert film with an annoying plot does as much to cremate his comic reputation as it does the Weitz Brothers! You know a film about a comedian is in dire straits when a scene at the nightclub is played so you cannot hear the jokes, only the laughter. Similarly, the casting of Mark Addy as Wellington's butler who speaks the Queen's English but is in reality a commoner from Michigan defies logic, too. Addy is an actual Englishman, and he doesn't have to fake an accent; his accent is genuine. The major overriding quandary with "Down to Earth" is the on-again-off-again, look-a-like switcheroo that the characters make so Chris Rock doesn't disappear completely from the sight for more than a few seconds. Although Chris spends half the movie as white guy Wellington, audiences see him largely as Lance, undercutting the comic irony of watching his stocky, bald-headed, Caucasian white, alter-ego perform ghetto humor and chant derogatory hip-hop lyrics. Incredibly, Rock served double-duty as the film's executive producer and one of its four scribes. The mystery is how such a wealth of talent could grind out such an awkward, misguided muddle of a comedy. About the only redeeming feature of "Down to Earth" is Jamshied Sharifi's superb orchestral film score.
To enjoy any fantasy comedy, the viewer must be able to suspend disbelief.
It is impossible to suspend disbelief for Down to Earth.
Why do we see Chris Rock as Chris Rock, when everyone around him sees him as Charles Wellington, rich, fat white man? Why? Because the producers thought they could make more money showcasing Rock, than having us see Rock as Wellington. It ruins much of the movie's attempted humor. For example, when Rock (as Wellington) uses the "N" word, black folks who hear him become furious, and we have to remember that he is supposedly this rich, fat white man.
The film does have some funny moments, and Regina King is attractive as the love interest. It could have been really good, though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Down to Earth (2001): Dir: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz / Cast: Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, Eugene Levy, Mark Addy: Lifeless comedy about bringing down to reality one's standards of living. If one's standards of living regarded viewing this film then living standards went down. Remake of Heaven Can Wait, Chris Rock plays a struggling comedian who dreams of presenting an act at the Apollo nightclub. Upon being hit by a truck he is sent to Heaven but informed that he was taken ahead of his time. They send him back in the body of a white rich man who is not very well liked. He learns that there are plans to murder him. He also falls in love with Regina King who is struggling to keep a hospital opened. Directors Chris and Paul Weitz previously made the much funnier American Pie but this garbage is a major step down and adds none of intelligence of their sexual high school romp. Their handling of the black man white man image of the hero is poorly portrayed. We are given glimpses of the white guy but he is never well established as a character. Rock is reciting his comedy act right from the standard setup right up to his eventual relationship with King. Her function is to be the love interest and nothing more. Chazz Palminteri and Eugene Levy are wasted in flat roles. Heavenly aspects fail because God doesn't make mistakes. No, the mistakes are made by the filmmakers. Score: 2 / 10
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