Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: "Erin Brockovich" Anne T. Donahue

Well, if there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that Erin Brockovich is obviously a movie that is overlooked by the masses (minus the Academy and the actual masses who gave Julia Roberts an Oscar and made this movie a hit, but shhh just let me say what I want for once), and it is time to bask in this cinematic wonder.

First, let the record state that I was obsessed with both this movie and Julia Roberts when Erin Brockovich came out — mostly because Julia Roberts is so assertive and confidant and self-assured and GUESS WHAT: I was none of those things. Did I think that after seeing this movie I could ALSO act in a film about Erin Brockovich (perhaps in some sort of remake)? Yes. Did I think I was just like Erin Brockovich in real life? Yes. Was I a lost cause? Absolutely.

But so what! Who cares! It’s time to walk down memory lane and gaze upon the movie that I may or may not have quoted in and out of context all through high school with the exact same best friend I shared Nicolas Cage-inspired secret handshakes with. In fact, I may have quoted this movie as early as yesterday afternoon while writing an email with THAT VERY PERSON (not Nicolas Cage). So let’s do this! We’re already five minutes in and do you know how much I’ve written so far? These paragraphs. Obviously. Come on, guys! We’re all friends here!

1. Every time I have a bad day I compare it to Erin Brockovich’s bad day

You know? In the beginning when she doesn’t get a job, and she gets a ticket, and she breaks a nail, and then she totals her car? LIFE. I seriously think of that scene EVERY TIME something happens along those lines in my own life (like when the drive-thru the other day ran out of apple juice) (or when I accidentally email somebody thinking it’s somebody else) (or the time I totaled my car in first year university) because we have ALL BEEN THERE.

I hear you, Erin.

2. $17 000 in debt = YUP

So Erin is $17 000 in debt and the lawyer is making this huuuuge deal out of it like she’s the biggest screw up in the history or western civilization. ACTUALLY, your non-honour, she is JUST LIKE US who are also $17 000 in debt (OR MORE) because of school and life and life and LIFE (see point #1). I remember watching this scene when I was 14 and thinking, “$17 000?! What’s wrong with her?” and now I am watching it at 26 and thinking, “God, I WISH I was only $17 000 in debt!” (Am I right, pals?!) (Right?!) (GUYS, RIGHT?!) (Can I please have $17 000, someone?)

3. ERIN BROCKOVICH CAMEO WHAT WHAT

God I love that part! When she just shows up playing a waitress and it’s like, YEAH I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Why? Because I was TOLD via various articles. Also, I watched the credits. All of these things.

4. Remember want-ads?

Attention: viewers. We are now at the part where Erin is calling the want-ads and also Ed her lawyer, and this scene makes me think of two things:

1) Want-ads! Our Craigslist, you guys? Online databases? I used to cold-call Craigslist for “writing jobs” when I first wanted to be a writer and aside from the fact that it panned out once out of 25925825 times, I will say that you probably do not want to go about finding a writing job that way I will tell you that much for free (without want-ads). Also,

2) How majorly hard Erin rules — especially when she’s mad.

5. So did she just randomly show up to Ed’s office and pretend to work?

This scene confuses me because at first Ed’s coworker is like, “She works here!” and Ed’s surprised. So … did Erin just show up one day? And pretended she worked there? Did this place just not double check? Like, “Oh! Okay! I guess she works here then!” Like that? Do we get to do that, you guys? Just walk right into the back of McDonalds and refuse to leave until we get jobs? Somebody try it and report back to me but DO NOT BLAME ME when you get fired and/or charged and actually please don’t do this, anyone, I think you’ll get criminal records.

6. GEORGE!

I LOVE GEORGE. HE’S SO GREAT. HE’S SO HANDSOME. HE WEARS VESTS. THAT IS ALL.

7. Okay, but why doesn’t Erin abide by the dress code?

NOW I am only saying this because dress codes exist, and I have had to abide by them. Like, I couldn’t wear jeans to the bank. And I will also go out on a limb and say I probably couldn’t have worn a sheer blouse with a leather skirt which is what I’m seeing being worn right now. Not because she doesn’t look nice BUT because “professional environments” call for “professional wear” (read: certain lengths). And then she gets mad when her boss tells her to dress differently? Noooope. Erin, nope. That’s not how it works. You are the greatest, but if I couldn’t wear “double stitch pants” you can’t either.

8. More George the Biker!

RIGHT? So now he’s taking care of her kids and he’s got all these rings on and he’s super funny and now he’s flirting and I will say that my crush on George grew from the moment I saw him at age 15. I would actually really like to talk to Aaron Eckhart about growing his hair out and maybe dressing and acting exactly like George? And I would actually also like to admit that I wish this was just how and who Aaron Eckhart is as a real human. And whenever we see him with short hair and all clean cut he is actually just playing a part. And his real part is as George the Biker, who we love.

9. Okay now also maaaaybe Erin could have communicated with Ed and the gang a little bit more

I mean, look. I love Erin Brockovich. And I love Erin Brockovich. But I do not love that she just didn’t tell anybody where she was going because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? And granted, yes, she asked if she could “investigate things a little more” but that to me sounded like she was going to read some more papers, not high-tail it into another city and not show up to work for days at a time. AM I WRONG HERE? Am I part of the problem? I’m just saying to CALL EVERY MORNING MAYBE?! Am I too paranoid? I JUST LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW WHERE I AM, ALRIGHT?

10. I HEAR YOU ERIN (AS BEST I CAN)

So man alive. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t know what it’s like to have three kids and not be able to feed them but I will tell you that I know what it’s like not to be able to afford rent or groceries and have mice and have to eat nothing but boxed and frozen dinners because I’d have to make $11 for two weeks. So when she gets fired and she freaks out and is like “DOESN’T MAKE ONE BIT OF DIFFERENCE” I just want to stand up and say YEP. I UNDERSTAND THAT FEELING WE ALL DO ERIN WE ARE ALL FRIENDS. Because we all do! We’ve all been there. And while Erin’s case is extreme, we have absolutely felt that frustrated with our circumstances. Adulthood, right everybody? The adventures!

11. But then sometimes I feel like Erin’s being mean to Ed for no reason?

Right? Ed just seems like a dude who’s a little out of touch because he’s been working with Jason Bourne this whole time (see this won’t make sense unless you’ve seen The Bourne Ultimatum), and then sometimes Erin just gets really mad, and then I feel bad for everybody. Okay? (ARE YOU NOW ENTERTAINED?) I feel bad for her and I feel bad for everyone else in the office because they’re all just SO. ANGRY. Or maybe I’m just oversensitive because I’m tired.

I think I’m just oversensitive because I’m tired.

12. Hands up if you only understood the law aspects of this movie later in life

BECAUSE I DID. I really did not understand. I knew that Erin and Ed won, and I knew that it was because PG&E poisoned everybody, but only now do I understand how much WORK went into this (keeping in mind I was 14, 15 and then 22 with the flu when I watched this movie last). I also read that in real life Erin actually got incredibly sick, and not just the scene where she has pneumonia and comes into the office while coughing. So basically what I’m saying is that if you’re watching Erin Brockovich when you’re 14 or 15, use the internet because I couldn’t (because we had dial-up and it took like, 20 minutes to log onto anything) and educate yourself all about this case.

13. And then Erin gets mad at George?!

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH GEORGE? He’s taking care of her kids and then she makes a comment about him not being able to find a job? AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE. I just feel like it was kind of very off-side. Like, maybe completely off-side. Like, maybe apologize and also I hope you apologized if you’re reading this, fictional Erin Brockovich because I have no proof of this conversation even having happened in real life and I am going to go right ahead and blame the screenwriters.

14. I just remember feeling conflicted FOR her

Well we’re at the point in the movie where Erin’s at the picnic with George and the kids, and I guess Ed and Erin are holding the picnic, and George just walks up to her and is like, “We’re bored.” Okay, well that’s great GEORGE, but it is ERIN AND ED who are holding the picnic. As in they have to be there. As in she’s working? I remember feeling conflicted about this movie when I was 15, but now I’m even more conflicted because I actually can’t imagine being put in this position. One one hand, she’s going to save lives. On the other hand, she has to take care of her kids. Watching this when you’re a kid, you’re like, “Whatever! George can babysit!” but when you’re older you realize that is totally not the way this is going to fly.

What I’m trying to say is if I’m feeling this stressed out watching a MOVIE, then think about how everyone involved in this entire actual real life situation felt. Because obviously they are the same. (I am 100% aware that they are not even close to being the same.)

15. This movie did make me want to be a lawyer, though

It also made me think I could totally react like Erin if I were confronted with anything. And by “react like Erin” I mean “I could deliver the perfect insult in the perfect setting.” And by “anything” I mean “anyone.” This is not true because in real life when offended I get mad, I stare like a possessed person and then I deliver what I think in a very calm, quiet serial killer tone. And then I have to walk away and come back because I will not sound funny yet serious like Erin Brockovich, I will sound like I am going to come after you but not in a cool way. (Then after I will swear a lot.)

16. STILL CONFLICTED ABOUT THE GEORGE RELATIONSHIP

And now he’s left. And again, the conflict. THE CONFLICT, YOU GUYS. Does he stay? Does he stay to prove he’s a good guy and that Erin can trust men again or does he leave because he’s unhappy? Also SHE HAS TO WORK, GEORGE. I don’t know how to make any of this clearer? Maybe he should just move back to his place and go back to seeing Erin sometimes? And she gets a babysitter or something and then everyone wins? No. It’s not that easy. IT IS NOT THAT EASY, GEORGE AND ME, WHO IS WRITING THIS. How did I even think I remotely understood this movie when I first saw it? I watched it while I was babysitting, for heaven’s sake! I passed out with my hand in a bag of chips!

Even George is shocked.

17. Teresa from the partnered firm has become a mascot for my friend and I

So remember when Erin and Ed join forces with the second law firm? And Erin and Teresa immediately begin to hate each other? Well Ashley — the Romy to my Michele — and I INSISTED on having conversations that would end with, “Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot here” (to which the other would respond, “That’s all you’ve got, lady: two wrong feet and effing ugly shoes”) And we both prayed for the day we would be able to use that line in real life.

In retrospect, there is no right time to use that line unless you seriously have been personally very offended. And even then, I would probably just cut the person off completely and refuse to speak with them again. And THAT, my friends, is why I’m not a lawyer.

18. And then Erin meets that random guy at the bar

And by show of hands, who here thought she was going to get murdered by him? (ME ME ME!) All I remember thinking is that Erin was meeting this random guy who’d already hit on her and was going to get abducted at her car or something. In no way was this related to having watched Scream or something beforehand, I’m sure.

19. But seriously this movie is everything great

Am I right? I am, aren’t I. Not only does Erin Brockovich take on this enormous company, she goes to bat for people who have been terribly wronged AND THEN SHE WINS. Everything about this story is beyond inspiring. It also puts a lot of perspective on, say, getting stressed out your own job when your own job is not doing anything the characters in this movie do/deal with. And OH MAN IT’S THE BAR SCENE.

20. Okay, but let’s return to the bar scene again for a minute

Are we all on the same page here? I feel like we should be. I mean, let’s ignore the fact that Erin Brockovich just ordered coffee at a bar. And then let’s move on to HOW CREEPY this guy is who turns out to … save the day? WHY IS HE ACTING LIKE THIS. He is literally saying “I had my eye on you” and/or “There’s something about this girl I trust” and WOW HE JUST KEEPS GOING. And then he grabs her arm and confesses he used to destroy documents? WHAT IS UP DUDE WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM. Just be normal! Just go up to her and say, “Hey, I have some information you’d like.” And then wow they would discuss the information. Just like that! Charles Embry. Dial it down, please. Dial it down to at LEAST 8 out of 10 because you are currently at 25925825825.

21. I would totally mess up this whole case

Erin’s job right now is to get a declaration from Charles Embry. And not to intimidate him or scare him off. Here’s where I would go wrong: instead of letting Charles Embry talk I would probably just shout AHHH GIVE ME THE STORY PLEASE GIVE ME THE DECLARATION. And then guess what I wouldn’t get. (Spoiler alert: the declaration. I wouldn’t get the declaration.) (All I’m saying is that please nobody put me in charge of anything important because I would lose the case. I would lose it so hard.)

22. THEME: WORK HARD AND SUCCEED

Now, remember when we watched Legally Blonde? Don’t worry, I’m not going to compare this to Legally Blonde. BUT I am going to re-iterate my favourite theme in movies EVER: WORK HARD AND SUCCEED. Work. Hard. The best way to work! Yes, Erin ultimately had to make some serious sacrifices but LOOK WHAT SHE ACCOMPLISHED. Doesn’t that just make you want to accomplish everything you’ve ever set out to do? I hope so, you guys.

23. And how dare you not cry when Erin tells the one family they’re getting $5 million

HOW DARE YOU NOT. You’re made of stone if you didn’t just totally fall apart at this. LOOK WHAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH. LOOK AT THE TEARS ON MY BEDSPREAD NOW. Marg from CSI! (I mean, obviously I know she’s acting, but this actually HAPPENED, everybody!) It is time for us all to cry and hug and feel all of the emotions anybody can or should possibly feel. FEEL THE EMOTIONS. EVERYONE.

24. Los Angeles Lawyer magazine . . . ?

Confirm or deny: IS THIS A THING. And tell me also why the first thing I thought of was Hugh Grant in Notting Hill when he tells Julia Roberts he writes for Horse & Hound.

25. AND THEN SHERYL CROW WITH THE CLOSING MONTAGE

Which is the reason why every time Sheryl Crow comes on the radio I STILL turn it up and think, “I am just like Erin Brockovich.” Obviously this is not true. But for four minutes, I dare to dream.

AND THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE.

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  1. Also, I’ve never seen this movie because I’m not a huge Julia Roberts fan, but I have every intention of watching it as soon as I get home from work.

  2. This article is awesome. Thank you for brightening my morning!

  3. I was laughing out loud reading this, especially #20 – I thought the exact same thing! Very well written – who knew so much was going on in this movie?

  4. I remember my mom bought this movie on VHS when if first came out. I was 8 years old. I also remember her being pretty obsessed with it. So this article hit home for me (literally!) and I loved it. Thanks for the laugh here and there too! Also, Julia Roberts = super pretty!

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