The Hittman Chronicle

Erin Brockovich


Once again Julia Roberts plays the Girl Next Door. This time she's Erin Brockovich, a twice-divorced mother of two with no job skills and only a few dollars in the bank. When she's hit by a doctor driving a Jaguar, she hires attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney) for the inevitable lawsuit. It should have been a fairly easy case, but she lets the defense attorney get the best of her, and the jury, put off by her temper and colorful language, vote against her. Desperate, she shows up at Masry's office and cons him into giving her a job.

While doing a routine real estate transaction she discovers medical bills in the file, and does some investigating on her own. She discovers that Pacific Gas and Electric have been polluting the groundwater with chromium six, a compound they use to slow corrosion. This compound, we're told in the movie, cases just about every disease known to man, from every kind of cancer to bone diseases to headaches to hemorrhoids. Erin tracks down everyone who has ever been sick on any property anywhere near the plant, and then sues PG&E for hundreds of millions of dollars, raising the rates of all their customers and grabbing a huge bonus for herself.

I went in knowing the science behind most of the suits was bogus, so I wasn't expecting to like this movie. But I couldn't help myself. Julia made Erin so appealing it was impossible to dislike her. Her best scenes were when people looked down on her. The moment anybody was condescending, no matter how politely, she went off on them with the speed and force of a rocket, always making fools of them for daring to underestimate her.

The romantic interest was almost a side story, involving a decent guy who lived next door but got tired of playing second fiddle to her job. We're left with the feeling that a lot of the romance ended up on the cutting room floor.

Chick:   I almost didn't give it a chick rating because it's not really a chick flick. But based on the reactions of the three women I live with,* who all loved it, I decided to give it a four chick rating. Most women will love to cheer for this woman who, using nothing more than guts, chutzpah, and low cut dresses, went from being an impoverished looser to a millionaire.

*Don't get excited - I was referring my wife and two daughters.

© 2000 Dave Hitt

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