Down to Earth (2001) starring Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, Eugene Levy, Frankie Faison, Mark Addy directed by Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz Movie Review

Down to Earth (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Mark Addy and Chris Rock in Down to Earth (2001)

Here Comes Mr. King

Lance (Chris Rock) thinks he is a funny guy and is determined to make it as a stand up comedian despite being religiously booed of stage earning him the nickname "Booey". But after another failed gig Lance ends up knocked off his bike and taken to heaven where it turns out he is too early as the angel Keyes (Eugene Levy) was over zealous in grabbing him. Keyes' boss, Mr. King (Chazz Palminteri - Boss of Bosses) agrees to send Lance back down to earth but he can't go back as who he was and his only option is to go back as Charles Wellington, an aging white millionaire which is the total opposite of Lance. Struggling to come to terms with his new life he finds himself becoming attracted to Sontee (Regina King - Enemy of the State) a hot activist nurse.

So let me tell you what you probably already know; "Down to Earth" was the 2001 update of "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" and its remake "Heaven Can Wait" whilst also designed as a star vehicle for Chris Rock. Unfortunately "Down to Earth" is only that, a star vehicle for Chris Rock and so whilst it features a lot of well known faces it never gels but just serves up actors doing their funny thing but never really working together. That is not its only issue as Rock is like Eddie Murphy and has a career built around being loud, outrageous and often filling his gags with swearing which when you remove those elements to make it acceptable for a younger age group it cause Rock to feel neutered.

Regina King in Down to Earth (2001)

Now the thing about this update is its emphasis is different to the previous incarnations with the joke this time being about a young black guy with lots of attitude finding himself in an old white guy's body who is stuffy. It is an amusing joke which works for about 5 minutes but then it wears off and you need something extra and whilst we have the romance as Lance as Charles tries to romance Sontee whilst also dealing with his wife and lawyer trying to kill him is not enough to sustain the remaining movie. That actually doesn't make "Down to Earth" bad but it makes it ordinary, just another comedy with a good idea but not the substance to sustain it.

What "Down to Earth" comes down to is Chris Rock and when you take a guy who is a stand up comedian with an edgy act and then throw them into a movie where the edginess of their act is taken away and what you have left is a weak performance. Weak maybe wrong but "Down to Earth" feels like Rock treating every single scene as a stand up routine rather than part of a movie and with that edge removed is ordinary. What it also does is isolate all the characters making the rest of the cast deliver their scenes in a stand up routine sort of way.

What this all boils down to is that "Down to Earth" comes across like 90 minutes of stand up comedy which doesn't work especially well as a movie but fun to dip into once in a while for a few funny gags.