Erin Brockovich presents moviegoers with the true story of a woman who transcends her surroundings, takes on the big dogs, and wins. Twice-divorced, this mother of three young children has only a rudimentary education and can’t find a job to save her life. After a failed lawsuit against a wealthy doctor (his speeding car broadsides hers), Erin finds herself unable even to pay the rent for her meager apartment. So she takes a big risk and shows up for work at the office of her lawyer, Ed Masry. He doesn’t want to hire her at first, but she refuses to take no for an answer. Despite her obviously confrontational nature, he gives her a job. Little does he know that he’s just made the biggest decision of both their lives.
Erin does simple clerical duties for a time until she’s struck by one particular case that involves real estate deals and strange sicknesses in the small California town of Hinkley. Her self-driven investigation turns the case on its head, leading to the nation’s largest settlement ever in a direct-action lawsuit. Meanwhile, a gentle biker named George comes into her life, wins her respect, then woos her love. He even babysits her kids and provides stability for her as she explores her newfound life and ambitions.
Positive Elements: Erin’s compassion and love for people always outshines her drive to win the case. She needs the money, but she’s not as interested in getting rich as she is in bringing justice to a town that has been grievously wronged by a large corporation. While crass and profane at times, her heart stays in the right place. She loves her kids and grieves over the time she has to spend away from them while earning a living. Erin is callused and hardened by her lot in life and her two derelict ex-husbands, but she never completely closes herself off. She still expresses hope for the human spirit. Her cause is just and her methods are consistently scrupulous (unless you count using feminine wiles to mesmerize misguided men). George isn’t "just another biker." Tender, compassionate and gracious, George becomes a father to Erin’s kids. Sure, he’s attracted to Erin, but his motivations go much deeper.
Immodesty and Sexual Content: It is implied that Erin and George strike up a sexual relationship some time after George begins looking after the children. Sex, however, is merely hinted at, not shown. Unfortunately, Erin parades around the bedroom wearing only a bra and an unbuttoned shirt. Indeed, outside the bedroom, she consistently dresses provocatively and uses her short hemlines and always-visible cleavage to help her get her way when she’s around men. Several rude comments refer to sex. Erin sarcastically jokes that she got all her research by performing sexual favors.
Violent Content: None to speak of. Erin’s car spins around when hit by another vehicle.
Crude or Profane Language: Here’s the big rub for Erin Brockovich. Nearly 50 f- and s-words make the film’s otherwise clever dialogue intolerable. Erin’s fondness for the f-word becomes central to her character. Additionally, Jesus’ name is abused and other, milder, profanities intrude, some of them spoken in front of the children.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Several characters drink beer. Erin is shown smoking a cigarette once.
Summary: With its reality-based one-woman-against-the-system story, Erin Brockovich epitomizes the triumph of the human spirit in the face of heavy-handed corporate greed. It energizes theater audiences with its "David vs. Goliath" drama. It elevates the gravity of true justice and "rightness" in a society awash in petty lawsuits. It showcases what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it. Alas, foul language and low necklines will make it unbearable for most discerning families.