Erin Brockovich
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

It's only March but already we have the ``feel good movie of the year!" Erin Brockovich is a very good movie and the crowd I was there with applauded at the end, always a sign of a feel good movie.  And you will feel good about it.  Erin Brockovich is the story of a twice-divorced woman (Julia Roberts) with three kids and, as she says, with $74 in her bank account.  She talks her way into a clerical job with a fire-engine-chasing lawyer (Albert Finney) and then becomes interested in a case involving sick people living near a Utility plant. This is yet another true story. The producers claim that unlike The Insider and Hurricane, their movie is actually very true to the details. It would be interesting if Roberts' wardrobe is anything like that of the real Erin Brockovich.  It makes her outfits from Pretty Woman look sick. And she seems to have a whole lot of them for a woman with $74 in her bank account and three kids to feed. Anyway, she uses her extensive cleavage, long legs and winning ways to dig up information on the evil corporation.  As she becomes more and more obsessed with the case, her kids are left alone to be taken care of by her saintly biker boyfriend (?).  Things get bad as the corporation fights back and her boyfriend takes a hike but, well, you know, they are following a formula.  I was just reading an article in this morning's NY Times about how movies with ``surprises" like The Sixth Sense were becoming more popular than ``formula" pictures. Well, Erin Brockovich has very little in the way of surprises and you have seen this formula many times before. What raises this film above the level of other formula movies is the combination of Roberts, Finney and director Steven Soderbergh.  Roberts and Finney are both great here but more important, they have a great chemistry together.  Their scenes positively sizzle.  Finney is an amazing actor, famous for many roles starting with Tom Jones. He could have mailed in this performance in return for a fat paycheck but he throws himself into this role completely. And Roberts seems to be getting better every time out.  I liked her performances last year in Notting Hill, Runaway Bride and on TV in Law & Order.  Here, she has more scope to show what she can do and she takes full advantage of it.  Soderbergh, hailing from right here in Baton Rouge, has already made a splash with several movies including Sex, Lies and Videotape, and Out of Sight.  This film is well put together and doesn't wander around. It could have been really sugary but both Roberts' and Finney's characters are nicely fleshed out with human foibles.  Robert's character in particular is always sabotaging her success quite realistically.   I know some of you are thinking, `oh no, not another Julia Roberts movie' but what the heck, go see it. It's the feel good movie of the year!