Erin Brockovich Is a Decades-Old True Story With Lasting Relevance

By Bradford William Davis


Erin Brockovich, the Julia Roberts-led environmental justice drama, would be more of a feel-good crowd pleaser if it firmly resided as a relic of the past. It’s still a famous, “based on a true story” crowd pleaser. You should feel good when you’re done soaking in the tightly-paced plot and Roberts’ Oscar-winning performance. But, the titular character’s battle against a powerful company’s deadly water pollution cover-up is anything but dated — it’s disturbingly relevant.

Year of Release: 2000

Runtime: 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Who you’ll recognize: Julia Roberts as the tenacious, compassionate and moderately dysfunctional Erin, plus Aaron Eckhart as her tender love-interest George.

Why you should watch: Erin Brockovich will entertain you, tug at your heartstrings, and remind you why Julia Roberts is one of Hollywood’s most beloved leading actors. Susannah Grant’s snappy dialogue, director Steven Soderbergh’s tight pacing and Roberts’ career-defining performance carry the film through a brisk two hours.

Why now: Even though the real Erin Brockovich went to court in 1993, she continues work as an activist for other communities because plenty of American cities still don’t have clean water. Wouldn’t it be nice if this movie were less timely?

Quotables: “Ya know why everyone thinks that all lawyers are back-stabbing, blood sucking scum bags? Cause they are!” — Erin

Teariness scale: Three tissues out of five. This movie is solidly tear-jerky, but more stoic viewers may not succumb to its weepy magic.

Awards: Julia Roberts’ Best Actress win at the Oscars headlined Erin Brockovich’s 11 Oscar and Golden Globes nominations.

Which HBO Character would watch?: Hannah Horvath (Girls) would watch this, feel inspired to take action, fire off some angry tweets then cool down with a midday nap.