Here on Earth Review
By James Brundage
In David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner, Steve Martin puts his two cents in on doing business in America. "Always do business as if the person you're doing business with is trying to screw you, because they probably are. And if they're not, you can be pleasantly surprised." The entertainment industry is a business, and I conduct myself around this business with the expectation that each movie that I see will be terrible. That way, as I come out of the movie, I can be pleasantly surprised.
Don't think I'm crazy... It's reverse psychology: it's not supposed to make sense.
This weeks pleasant surprise was Here on Earth, a film which I expected to be Leelee Sobieski (the scantly-clad tailor's daughter from Eyes Wide Shut) dropping her intellect and artistic integrity for a more sizable paycheck. As it turns out, her intellect and artistic integrity are about the only things she doesn't drop in this film. Sobieski plays Samantha, a small town girl with vices that include (but are not limited to) scenic waterfalls, birch trees, and Robert Frost poems. Sam is the object of the rivaling affections of two boys, a rich prep named Kelley (Chris Klein), and a hick-with-a-heart named Jasper (Josh Hartnett).
Kelley would have been valedictorian of his prep school if it weren't for the fact that a joyride / car chase with Jasper resulted in the destruction of a diner named Mable's Table. When a judge sentences the two rivals to rebuild the diner, Sam predictably falls for Kelley. Rather than play the vicious jealousy card, writer Michael Seitzman chooses instead to give Sobeiski a terminal illness, and from there the movie proceeds to its achingly predictable climax.
After reading the summary on what is likely to go down in history as one of the worst written scripts ever, you probably are pondering why Here on Earth was a pleasant surprise. Well, this film works exactly like The Hurricane did: by placing great actors in parts not worthy of them. Sobeiski is one of the few people that actually can die with style. Klein is able to pull of the I-hate-small-towns shtick, act like a jerk, and still have us love him. Greenwood plays both stock roles of the town sheriff and the grieving dad to a T, and Hartnett truly shines as the most human character of the entire group. In addition to this, the film is remarkably well photographed. The nature outside of the small town is captured perfectly in the lens of Michael D. O'Shea. Director Mark Piznarski also handles his cast and crew well.
All in all, Here on Earth is yet another movie that proves that a good script really isn't necessary to have a good movie. If it could just have gotten a good script, Here on Earth could have taken me straight to heaven.
When it rains, it pours.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 24th March 2000
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 57
Cast & Crew
Producer: David T. Friendly