Here On Earth

on March 24, 2000 by Tim Cogshell
   Amid a flood of insipid youth movies that are generally either vicious or salacious, "Here On Earth" stands out as a welcome, if not particularly original, take on the pubescent years. The story is a traditional "different sides of the tracks" love triangle involving two boys, a girl, and a good deal of teen angst.
   Leelee Sobieski, who first gained notice in the apocalyptic summer blockbuster "Deep Impact" and played a small but intense role in director Stanley Kubrick's dénouement "Eyes Wide Shut," among other notable performances, plays Sam, a working-class girl caught between her feelings for lifelong friend Jasper ("The Faculty's" Josh Hartnett) and an arrogant rich kid, Kelley ("Election's" Chris Klein). The boys get involved in a drag race that destroys Sam's family's small diner. As a punishment, the judge sentences the boys to rebuild the business, requiring Kelley to take a room in a shed where they're working. That stretch of judicial credibility notwithstanding, the circumstances give Kelley and Sam the opportunity to build a romantic relationship, much to the chagrin of Jasper, who feels his territory is being encroached upon, and that Sam will eventually be hurt by the rich boy.
   There's not a single inspired moment in this story, though director Mark Piznarski, who directed episodes of the popular TV series "My So-Called Life," is certainly capable of exploiting those unreasonably charged teen emotions found in these sorts of films. Sobieski does not tax her talents here, but her presence is magnetic. The film is sweet and occasionally moving, and though it treads in familiar territory, including a particularly maudlin element that is completely unnecessary, it's still more interesting than the body- and boob-count films that are the usual teen fare. Starring Leelee Sobieski, Chris Klein and Josh Hartnett. Directed by Mark Piznarski. Written by Michael Seitzman. Produced by Jeffery Downer, David T. Friendly and David Higgins. A Fox Release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and thematic elements. Running time: 100 min
Tags: Leelee Sobieski, Chris Klein, Josh Hartnett, Mark Piznarski, Michael Seitzman, Jeffery Downer, David T. Friendly, David Higgins, teen, romance, love triangle, race, family drama

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