Retro Review: Down to Earth

Do you remember those funny Eddie Murphy movies of the 1980’s? You know the ones I mean.

The ones before Eddie became family man. “Coming to America”, “The Golden Child”, and “Beverly Hills Cop” are three that come to mind.

Well “Down to Earth” reminded me a lot of those films and Chris Rock seems to want to take on the challenge.

“Down to Earth” follows the exploits of Lance Burton (Rock). Lance is a stand-up comedian who happens to die right before he is about to give the show of his life at the closing of the infamous theatre, The Apollo. Lance finds out in heaven that his death is a mistake and that he could return to Earth and get a new body.

The reason I refer to this film as a revisiting of the 80s style of comedies is that it isn’t afraid to have a goofy characters and humor in an out of this world story. I liked how for most of the film we related to Chris Rock because he was a fish out of water. Fish out of water comedies soared in the 80s and this film is no exception.

I also really enjoyed Rock’s embracing of the fat older white man. It was hilarious when the camera would switch to the old white guy delivering Rock’s standup and dancing to rap music. The whole old white man scenario was great. In some ways Rock’s reaction to the rich world reminded me of the film, “King Ralph”.

The only real problem I had was as the film was streaking towards a finale. Without giving too much away I found it strange that they leave the whole white man scenario unresolved but use a really goofy circumstance to conclude it. I also had a problem with some of the ending gimmicks. Why couldn’t he have stayed the white man and stopped the evil board of directors?

There is so much co-incidence, bad writing and clichés that end this film it really made me shake my head. It is a real shame that the third act really never lived up to what could have been a clever little film.

I laughed and went along as Rock found humor in interesting circumstances. I also liked that he toned down his image and graphic humor to fit this little comedy. That restraint also reminded me a lot of those Eddie Murphy movies. When Murphy lost the fact that he was holding something back is when I believe his career went south.

This film is probably the best SNL alumni film since the original “Austin Powers” but I guess that isn’t saying much. I really loved returning to a comedy that had a brain. After seeing “Saving Silverman”, “Me Myself and Irene” and “Deuce Bigelow” this film is definitely a treat.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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