Saturday 18 February 2017

Movie Review: Here On Earth (2000)

A stultifyingly atrocious teen romantic triangle drama, Here On Earth is a stinking miracle of rehashed ideas mixed with bad writing and lousy acting.

Rich teenager Kelley (Chris Klein) is about to graduate as the class valedictorian from a prestigious private college located near a working class suburb of Boston. Demonstrating ridiculously poor judgment on the eve of graduation, Chris goes for a wild joy ride in a brand new Mercedes, antagonizes local blue collar teen Jasper (Josh Hartnett), and makes a move for Jasper's long-time girlfriend Samantha (Leelee Sobieski). The evening ends with an old fashioned car chase and the two boys wreck the local (but fortunately empty) diner in an impressive fireball.

Kelley and Jasper get away with a light sentence that requires them to rebuild the diner, with Kelley forced to stay with Jasper's parents over the summer. The boys spend their days sneering at each other at the construction site, while Sam starts openly flirting with Kelley. They fall in love, but a devastating disease is waiting to dramatically enter the story.

Possibly one of the worst written movies to somehow receive respectable financing and a studio release, Here On Earth was scripted by Michael Seitzman and directed by Mark Piznarski with a reported $15 million budget. While some moments of adequate cinematography and lush scenery are pleasing to the eye, it is otherwise difficult to see how this turkey could have consumed millions in production dollars.

The black hole at the heart of the drama is a script devoid of any genuine emotion, sympathy or believable characters. Kelley and Samantha emerge as the romantic leads, and both are distinctly unlikable and incomprehensible characters, their on-screen behaviour totally inconsistent with their background. Kelley is supposed to be the class valedictorian yet spends the first 30 minutes of the film behaving like a total jerk, and then somehow he has to become the heart of the story. Seitzman throws in an oh-so-original stern dad and dead mom to justify Kelley's actions, and so he's not such a bad kid after all.

Meanwhile Samantha discards a life-long friendship with Jasper to chase after the kid who destroyed her family's business. Desperate to make his heroine more appealing, Seitzman hatches a serious ailment for the young lovers to contend with. They may be a dreadful couple, but they have tragic issues to deal with.

Klein, Hartnett and Sobieski read their lines with dead looks in their eyes, with Klein and Hartnett breaking out into shirtless macho fights at regular intervals. The supporting cast features actors who should know better than to appear as the parents of these kids, including Michael Rooker, Bruce Greenwood and Annette O'Toole.

Somehow in amongst the dross there are dreamy lines of dialogue about what heaven must be like. Never mind that, Here On Earth is cinematic hell, unearthed.

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