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:: Down To Earth

Directors Chris and Paul Weitz have taken the old Warren Beatty movie “Heaven Can Wait” and plundered it as a vehicle for the black comedian Chris Rock to showcase his talent. It’s fair to say that not a great amount was gained in the exercise. Rock plays Lance Barton, a standup comic who dies before his time. But the people in charge can’t give him his life back, no matter how much they’d like it. And so Lance is placed into the body of someone else – a rich white man. It’s a stretch for Lance to pass as the white man. The intended fireworks pretty much fizzle out early on in the movie. The alterations to the reworking of it permit the script to show differences between black and white culture in America, as well as the class and social distinctions, which were the main butt of the jokes in the earlier versions.

The movie is not consistently entertaining, even for the American viewers who might get something out of the characters and premise. Rock is just a single-note performer, not enough to generate the charm for the long haul. His stiffness eventually grows weary, yet he hasn’t been helped by the average direction. Of the supporting cast, only Chazz Palminteri and Eugene Levy show up well, although they’re working with hardly inspiring material. Overall, there are too many flat patches in “Down To Earth”. Despite his stand-up talent in America, Chris Rock doesn’t come off too well here, and is better observed in another recent movie “Nurse Betty” as a good support actor.