Retro Review: Here on Earth

Review: March 25, 2000

Can a tender sweet teenage love story survive in a market flooded with teen romps?

“Here on Earth” begins with a spoiled boarding school guy named Kelley (Chris Klein) taking a joyride in his graduation present, a brand new Mercedes. During this joyride he locks horns with the locals and enrages a local guy named Jasper (Josh Harnett). Jasper and Kelley engage in a dangerous car chase. As the chase develops Jasper’s innocent girlfriend Samantha (Leelee Sobieski) looks on but then the chase ends in a fiery explosion destroying the small community’s local diner. The diner is owned by Samantha’s mother.

After the destruction of the diner, Kelley and Jasper are brought in for trial and sentenced to rebuild the diner. This destroys Kelley’s chances at an early admission to Princeton. But eventually he doesn’t really care as he falls deeply in love with Samantha and has a summer he will never forget.

“Here on Earth” is one of those movies that at times can be filled with an ocean of feeling but at the same time be so predictable and almost disastrous. The fault I believe lays in the development of the love between Kelley and Samantha. Is there an actual relationship going on between Samantha and her previous boyfriend or was he always her best friend? Could Kelley actually show some emotion instead having to relay his feelings in a drunken stupor? Or why does Samantha always have to yearn for Kelley? Another eminent fault is in the story itself. The story is so predictable and vacant of depth I am not sure if the actors had much to work with. I have to stop and think, would this film have been deeper, passionate and maybe have a heart if a woman had written the screenplay? Maybe this kind of emotion comes with experience.

My third and final fault is that these actors are to good for this material. Sobieski is developing into a young Helen Hunt and has shown a lot of depth in previous projects. She was riveting as Joan of Ark. Klein needs to loosen up a lot but he still needed a little more depth in Kelley. The film’s supporting cast Michael Rooker, Annette O’Toole, and Bruce Greenwood are a lot better actors than the wooden country town people here. Boy, does O’ Toole look bored.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I did like about the film. Its nice to see that Hollywood is once again attempting to try to make an epic teenage love story. The Romeo and Juliet concept is still a glorious tool when used with passion. The best example was James Cameron’s Titanic. The actors there didn’t have much more to work with then these but through the story-telling and the characters growth we believed their epic romantic journey.

Another thing I liked was the music of Andrea Morricone, son of renowned composer Ennio Morricone, shows he has his father’s gift. I also credit director Mark Piznarski for holding the film together but like the film’s writer Michael Seitzman experience will hone these guys into better players.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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