Third Rock
Down To Earth
Review by Ross Anthony

Don't get me wrong, I like Chris Rock the comedian. But Chris Rock the comedic actor needs quite a bit of work. Ironically, his character is nicknamed "boo-y" in this rewrite of Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait."

A jumpy angel presumes Rock, a struggling comedian, dead as a truck approaches Rock's bicycle. Pulled from his body too soon, Rock pleads with heaven's managing angel, "I am not dead, now get me a new body, I've got an audition at the Apollo!" The angel concedes that Rock's death was indeed "untimely" and sets him up (temporarily) with the body of an older rich white guy who had just been killed by his wife's lover.

It's a fun story, decently updated with a strong enough script. Unfortunately, nearly everyone in the film outperforms the lead; most notably two character actors - the butler and the maid. Chris is as stiff as a rock; his awkward delivery never lets us enter this wonderful world of make believe. Coupled with occasional rickety editing, the production feels of a less than average independent film.

That said, of course, a few humdingers slip through:
"She's so skinny, you two might just start a fire havin' sex."
"Your mom has so much hair under her arms - she looks like she's got Buckwheat in a headlock."

Wonderful also, the first scene where Rock (as the rich Charles Wellington) meets the butler. And, Rock (as Wellingtion) stirs up the waters as well as the intensity level of the film in a strong hospital board meeting scene. Nicely done. One last touch, Rock's first attempts at the Apollo result in boos so Herculean they create a gale, his coat-pocket handkerchief fluttering in its the wind.

A stronger lead could have pulled this picture together. Additionally, the heart-stopping political incorrectness of Rock speaking hood-talk from the mouth of a rich white guy gave the film some of its brawnier moments. The production would have benefited by displaying the white Wellington (outside) more often (juicing the contrast), instead of showing us Rock (inside & out) nearly all the time.

  • Down To Earth. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Chris Rock, Regina King, Mark Addy, Eugene Levy, Frankie Faison, Greg Germann, Jennifer Coolidge, Chazz Palminteri.
  • Directed by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz.
  • Screenplay by Chris Rock, Lance Crouther, Ali Le Roi, Louis CK.
  • Based on the film "Heaven Can Wait" by Elaine May and Warren Beatty which was based on a play by Harry Segall. Yet another version ... the 1941 film, "Here Come's Mr. Jordon"
  • Produced by Sean Daneil, Michael Rotenberg, James Jacks at Paramount, Village Roadshow,NPV, Alphaville 3 Arts.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:24 PDT