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Down to Earth (2001)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Fantasy | 16 February 2001 (USA)
2:32 | Trailer

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After dying before his time, an aspiring black comic gets a second shot at life - by being placed in the body of a wealthy white businessman.


Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Rock ... Lance Barton
Regina King ... Sontee Jenkins
Chazz Palminteri ... King
Eugene Levy ... Keyes
Frankie Faison ... Whitney Daniels
Mark Addy ... Cisco
Greg Germann ... Sklar
Jennifer Coolidge ... Mrs. Wellington
Wanda Sykes ... Wanda
John Cho ... Phil Quon
Mario Joyner ... Apollo M.C.
Bryetta Calloway ... Gospel Singer
Martha Chaves Martha Chaves ... Rosa
Brian Rhodes ... Charles Wellington, III
Herb Lovelle ... Trashman


It seems everyone is trying to get into heaven; at least those whose time is up. For Lance Barton, a struggling comedian and bicycle messenger, it's the last thing on his mind. His due date upstairs is 50 years away. In the meantime, he's got big dreams to pursue on Earth, such as landing a slot at the final Amateur Night Contest at the famed Apollo Theatre. Lance's has one little problem though - he ain't that funny. Thanks to an over-cautious emissary from heaven, Mr. Keyes, he's going to get hit (literally) with a much bigger problem. Showing that even God has difficulty finding good help these days, the inept minion mistakenly plucks Lance from a traffic accident - before it takes place. Transporting him to the Pearly Gates, or more accurately, the velvet roped-lines of the hottest club around, the error is finally addressed by Mr. King, the streetwise, no-nonsense head angel who manages the place from his plush windowed office. Since returning to his own body on Earth is ... Written by Gilbert lee

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of premature reincarnation.


Comedy | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language, sexual humor and some drug references | See all certifications »



Germany | Canada | Australia | USA



Release Date:

16 February 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Was Made to Love Her See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$49,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,027,309, 18 February 2001, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In an early scene, Mrs. Wellington (Jennifer Coolidge) and Sklar (Greg Germann) are about to have sex on a pool table. In American Pie (1999), Coolidge's character played a woman who had sex on a pool table with a younger man. See more »


When Lance/Wellington gets on stage at his own club, he takes the microphone off its stand and the cord disconnects. When the camera cuts back to him, the mic is plugged back in. His volume remains constant throughout. See more »


Lance Barton: We're goin' in there. If you can walk, let's walk. If you can't walk, it's time to roll. If you have crutches, then crutch your ass in there!
See more »


Featured in Monica: Just Another Girl (2001) See more »


By Rene Tromborg & Rasmus Billie Bahncke
Courtesy of C & J Music
See more »

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User Reviews

This month just isn't getting any better
16 February 2001 | by Alvy_Singer73See all my reviews

One of the more popular theories currently making its way through

the entertainment media is that the impending writers' and actors'

strike will result in unprecedented awfulness at the cinema. I'd

argue that the span of time represented by the strike couldn't

possibly produce anything worse than what's currently being

released during the month of February. Case in point: following

hot on the heels of "Saving Silverman" and "Valentine" comes

"Down to Earth," thus completing an unholy trinity of astounding


Directed by Chris and Paul Weitz ("American Pie") with all the style

and grace of two brothers suddenly robbed of sight, hearing, and

motor skills, "Down to Earth" tells the story of Lance Barton (Chris

Rock), bicycle messenger by day, aspiring stand-up comedian by

night, who is killed a tenth of a second before his designated time

and is therefore allowed to return to earth in the only body available

to him that he finds acceptable: that of white millionaire Charles

Wellington. This body will only be a "loaner" until such time as a

corpse that Lance *really* likes turns up. Masterminding this

whole plot are angels played by the usually reliable Eugene Levy

and Chazz Palminteri, both of whom look exceedingly uncomfortable in their pastel-blue tuxedos, and as though they

wished they could be anywhere but in this movie.

Once Lance is stuck in Wellington's body, the movie can get on

with its real business: hooking Lance / Wellington up with the

beautiful, fiesty Santee (Regina King). This is no easy matter,

though, because as it turns out, Wellington is something of a

heartless S.O.B who wants to refuse patients' access to a hospital

he owns, and Santee is an advocate of those patients. But Lance,

immediately falling for Santee -- and ignoring the fact that he's now

an overweight, middle-aged white guy -- sees this as a chance to

woo Santee, and so he reverses the decisions made by his body's

previous owner. Limping along with that portion of the plot is

another part that sees Lance struggling (as Wellington) to win a

slot as one of the comedians performing at the closing of the

Apollo Theater. And adding to an already overloaded plate is the

scheme hatched by Wellington's cutthroat board of directors to

have their newly philanthropic boss rubbed out.

One of the main problems with the movie is the execution of the

big body switcheroo. Palminteri's angel tells Lance that everyone

will see and hear Wellington, but Lance will see and hear himself.

We see and hear him as Lance, too, except for when it's supposed

to be funny for us not to -- such as when Wellington raps or

performs at a predominantly African-American comedy club. This

is funny, see, because Lance is black and Wellington is white.

That's funny, right? Right? Well, actually, no. I laughed exactly

once in the movie's 87 minutes, and was immediately ashamed of

myself. We see Rock because the central conceit of the movie is

to play off the issue of race -- in essence, look how funny it is to

see an old white guy doing things stereotypically done by a young

black guy. And when that's the main reason to make a film,

alarms start ringing. In the end, it's insulting to both blacks and


To make matters worse, I have seldom been as embarrassed for

a cast as I was while watching this movie. Regina King

demonstrated none of the fire she had as Cuba Gooding Jr.'s wife

in "Jerry Maguire," stuck instead playing a character that's

supposedly got an iron will, but who falls in love with a paunchy,

jowly, middle-aged white man and repeats the line, "There's

something about your eyes" so many times I had to squelch the

urge to run home and grab my thesaurus so I could return to the

theater and throw it at the screen. Mark Addy, for me the most

likable character in "The Full Monty"'s eminently likable cast, plays

Wellington's butler. The joke is that he's supposed to be an

American sporting a British accent to seem more "butler-y." This

falls flat, though, because Addy's American accent is cringe-worthy, owing largely, I suspect, to the fact that Addy -- get

this -- isn't American! Wouldn't it make more sense to have an

American actor faking a British accent since that's, you know, the

character? Jennifer Coolidge, one of the funniest things in "Best in

Show," plays Wellington's philandering wife and made me want to

crawl under my seat in a thoroughly humiliating scene where she

decides to act "more black" in order to appeal to her suddenly

afrocentric husband. And Chris Rock, a comedian I find viciously,

painfully hysterical, is completely defanged here, uttering lines

which were greeted by the audience with the kind of silence I

usually only hear immediately following the phrase, "Please bow

your heads." The whole endeavor gave me the same creepy

feeling I got watching Woody Allen paw Elizabeth Shue in

"Deconstructing Harry."

I'm not sure what to chalk this failure up to, except maybe to the

fact that this is the third time this particular story has been told, first

as "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" and most recently with Warren Beatty

as "Heaven Can Wait." Remakes are rarely as good as the

original, and a second remake only removes the quality of the

original by another generation. Ultimately, I left "Down to Earth"

wondering only one thing: if the world sees and hears Wellington

as Wellington, why, when Santee reminisces about conversations

she had with him, does she hear Chris Rock's voice in her head?

Just a thought for this pre-strike February.

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