Down to Earth (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is the 11 millionth remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, about the guy who is accidentally taken to heaven by a well-meaning angel, despite the fact that he wasn't actually going to die in the upcoming accident. Oops.

In the first version the prematurely retired star was a boxer. The second version was Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty as a quarterback. 

In this latest avatar, our hero is Chris Rock, so he is ... surprise ... an aspiring black comedian. 

The temporary body they give him is ... surprise ... a corrupt billionaire white guy.  


 This does make it somewhat difficult to perform hip-hop numbers in public, or to do stand up about growing up poor and black, or to woo a socially conscious black medical worker, or to say "give a niggah a break" without getting the shit kicked out of him, but he manages to figure it all out eventually. There's really no meaningful difference between this version and the earlier ones, so you won't be very impressed with the romance or the plot or the situational humor. Chris isn't a great actor, and he's been stuck in difficult roles in the past, but he didn't have any problem playing a comedian, and I thought he was also much improved in his interactions with the other characters, and his ability to create a consistent character. The material just wasn't that good. Frankly, the first two versions weren't that good, either.

Now it still could have been a good movie without the situations. Chris Rock is a very funny guy, and he gets to do about 25 minutes of stand-up in a mere 87 minute film (!), so if you're a fan, you'll get some laughs. But there is a problem. This film is rated PG-13, and Chris Rock is generally not a PG-13 kind of guy. I think that means that the movie provides neither a very funny situation comedy nor a classic performance of Chris's high energy and outrageousness.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • brief documentary

Amazingly enough, this was directed by the American Pie team, although I didn't see much similarity, and it had to have been a big disappointment coming off a major hit, since it was a critical failure and just so-so at the box office.

In addition, the DVD has been deceptively marketed. It is supposed to include deleted scenes, and there are none. The DVD is simply the print, the trailer, and a brief "making of" documentary. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 1/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Apollo 59.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 22% positive overall, 37% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.4/10, Apollo users 71/100 
  • With their dollars ... it did pretty damned good despite weak critical response. It grossed $64 million off a $30 million budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Lifeless, watered-down, PG-13 version of Chris Rock is still OK, but not worth going out of the way to rent.

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