Despite a luke warm reception by film critics, Chris Rocks new comedy "Down To Earth," a story about reincarnation or better yet assimilation, is a hit with moviegoers, topping the Spring Season box office charts with $20,027,309 its opening week.
Credit "Down To Earths" enduring cast of Chris Rock, Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, and Eugene Levy with the films unprecedented success. Of course the film shines when Rock does his shtick, but its his characters love interest played by Regina King who keeps the wheels on this comedy vehicle.
"Everyone gets to be funny in this movie except me," King tells Blackflix.com. "But thats because my role in the film is as the anchor."
King says she had to play it straight in "Down To Earth," and that was difficult for her, since the characters she usually plays are more confrontational. But in "Down To Earth" she believes it worked out great.
"I think I am more of a dramatic actress," King says. "How Stella Got Her Grove Back" was the first time I actually approached a film from a comedic standpoint. It was the first time I was really trying to be funny."
King says she was plenty nervous about her performance after filming had wrapped.
"I was hoping I was funny, not looking like I was trying to be funny," King says. "A lot of the best comedy is natural humor. If I could be dramatic, with a comedic edge, thats what I wanted the most."
While filming "Down To Earth," King says Rock would deliberately make it difficult for her to play it straight.
"He did a lot of improve on a lot of takes," King says, "and it was hard not to laugh when he was being so off the wall. But it was fun."
King says she first met Rock a year before making "Down To Earth" but she never had the chance to really sit down and talk to him.
"In the Black community of actors, you often just pass each other at somebodys birthday party or something like that," King says, "So I never got to actually talk to him; not until this movie. I ran into to him coming out of a Beverly Hills hotel and Chris said, Hey, we should work together. And here we are."
King said she liked the script changes and departures from the 1977 Warren Beatty movie, "Heaven Can Wait," about a football player who dies prematurely and by divine intervention takes over the body of a millionaire. One change in the Rock version is a racial twist. A young Black comic is placed in the body of a rich chubby white guy.
In Beattys version you never see the millionaire. You see Beatty solely from the audiences point of view. But in Rocks film, you see the the Black comic from the audience point of view while the storys characters only see a white millionaire.
"I think the changes they made makes it more of a 2000 thing," King says. "And showing the Wellington character the way they did, I think thats a big shock for people, and its really hard to shock audiences now.
"I think the film worked out," King says. With a grin she adds, "And I think I was a pretty good anchor."