DOWN TO EARTH
New Age Marxism Lite
Release Date: February 16, 2001
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 87 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Executive Producer: Chris Rock & Barry Berg
Address Comments To:Sherry Lansing, Chairman
Motion Pictures Group
A Paramount Communications Company
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197
Phone: (323) 956-5000
In the story, comedian Chris Rock plays a would-be stand-up comic named Lance Barton. Lance, who is black, desperately wants to be a success on the stage at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. One evening, however, he’s distracted by a pretty face and gets run over by a huge truck. Up in Heaven, which is pictured as a big nightclub with a lot of partygoers, Lance discovers that his death was actually a mistake by a bumbling angel. The angel mistakenly took Lance’s soul before the traffic accident occurred. Lance demands that the head angel get him a new body, preferably a black one, in time for the final amateur night at the Apollo, which is being closed down.
The search for a body ensues. The head angel finally settles on the body of a wealthy white man, Charles Wellington, who has just been murdered by his wife and his business manager, her paramour. The angel wants Lance to agree to enter the body before someone discovers that Wellington is dead. Lance refuses until a young black woman, Sontee, barges into Wellington’s apartment, complaining about the closure of a community hospital in Harlem which serves the poor and working class. Lance realizes that Sontee is the woman whose face he saw the night of his regrettable accident. He decides to help her out by taking over Wellington’s body. He’ll also get an opportunity to get closer to her until the head angel can get him a new black body.
DOWN TO EARTH is fairly entertaining. Chris Rock is definitely an energetic, appealing performer who can hold the audience’s attention. He needs a little bit of work on his more dramatic scenes, however. There were several times where he wasn’t as genuine or believable as when he had something funny to say. In that respect, HEAVEN CAN WAIT, which starred long-time professional actors like Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, was a better production. Part of the problem may also be due to the young careers of the movie’s two directors, Chris and Paul Weitz, who did the R-rated, obnoxious AMERICAN PIE.
The PG-13 DOWN TO EARTH is a lot tamer compared to that movie, in terms of language and sexual immorality. The biggest problems with DOWN TO EARTH, however, lie in its theology and politics.
First, the basic story to DOWN TO EARTH, and HEAVEN CAN WAIT for that matter, is problematic because the Bible teaches that our souls, in reality, are metaphysically tied to our physical bodies. Thus, it is not possible for a human soul to “possess” another body in the way that these movies propose. Furthermore, since the Bible teaches resurrection of the body, if Lance truly has died before his appointed time, then why don’t the angels just resurrect the old body? Problem solved!
It’s not the basic story, however, that makes DOWN TO EARTH so abhorrent. It’s also the fact that the movie presents a false view of Heaven. Although the characters make a couple brief references to God, this is a Heaven without Jesus Christ and without the Bible, the Word of God.
Just as worse, if not more so, however, is what comes at the end of the movie. In the end, the head angel refers to reincarnation, and the story shows Lance being reincarnated into a final body which he now must call his permanent home. The angel tells Lance that he will lose his memory of all that has happened, but that his soul in his new body will always be him, not someone else. “That’s the way reincarnation works,” the angel says.
Reincarnation is a false religious concept that has become popular among spiritualists, New Agers and even some crank psychologists. Although DOWN TO EARTH conveniently doesn’t give many details on what the angel means by reincarnation, reincarnation usually is accompanied by a works-oriented worship that tries to negate the atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Instead of Jesus Christ atoning for our sins, in reincarnation we ourselves atone for our sins by living more than one life on earth. Also, instead of Jesus Christ being victorious over death once and for all, in reincarnation death is victorious over us, again and again and again and again. Such an awful system would be proof of an evil god, not the Benevolent Deity of Scripture.
DOWN TO EARTH does nothing to counter its false religious notions. It also says nothing to counter the main character, Lance Barton’s, politically correct, socialist and even Communist riffs on health care, the wealthy and race relations.
While in Wellington’s white body, Lance attends a hospital board meeting where he chastises the board members and the medical/insurance establishment in general for driving Mercedes while denying some people health care because they can’t pay. Later, the rich, selfish, capitalist board members send an assassin to murder Wellington, whom Lance has transformed into a utopian do-gooder with a Marxist-sounding spiel about business.
Also during the movie, Lance does the typical, but cleaned-up, rap on ethnic relations in which Chris Rock excels. Some, if not much, of Rock’s riffs are accurate, funny observations on what has gone on in the past and what is going on now between and among the various ethnic groups that make up America. They would be funnier and even more accurate, however, if Rock was more of an equal opportunity offender. Regrettably, there is just too much in the dialogue of the politically-correct, oddball Cultural Marxism that passes for liberal ideology these days. “Pity the poor, downtrodden black man!” Rock seems to proclaim more than once too often. The only joke that even tries to puncture the left is a mild joke about controversial black leader the Rev. Al Sharpton’s eating habits. Of course, Sharpton is the chubby Anti-Semite agitator who called the Jews of New York “diamond merchants” and who won’t pay the court judgment against him for calling an innocent man a rapist. Apparently, Chris Rock doesn’t have the guts to tell the real truth about Sharpton. He’d rather engage in broad attacks against wealthy people, doctors and businessmen. Of course, God tells Moses and the Hebrews in the Bible not to oppress the poor or the “alien” person with a different ethnicity, but He also tells them not to show unjust favoritism toward the poor. On the other hand, God commands everyone, including the wealthy, to help out the poor and needy, He also condemns laziness and tells families to support their own needy family members before they go around asking other people for help.
Regrettably, many viewers may not catch the dangerous theological and political messages in DOWN TO EARTH. Most of it, especially the political messages, are designed to elicit laughs rather than political activism. That does not excuse the filmmakers, however, from including such material in their movie.
DOWN TO EARTH is fairly entertaining, although Chris Rock needs a little bit of work on the more dramatic, less comical scenes. There are many mild obscenities in this movie, and some slight sexual elements, but the worst part of the content – by far – is the script’s false, abhorrent New Age theology and left-wing ideology. The movie places the story in a reincarnation context, a false theology which contradicts the Bible’s view of the afterlife. DOWN TO EARTH also contains some politically correct, racist, socialist, and even Communist sentiments. For example, Lance as Wellington starts forcing the hospital board to implement socialist solutions to healthcare issues, and the white men on the board decide to assassinate Wellington.