''Erin Brockovich'' is a 2000 film directed by Creator/StevenSoderbergh and starring JuliaRoberts in the title role.
Erin Brockovich is a single mother without a job and with thousands of dollars in hospital bills from a car accident she was in (and unsuccessfully sued the other driver to pay). Desperate, she gets her lawyer to take her on as a legal assistant. While everyone else is very professional, Brockovich dresses rather trashily and is rather crude. Then one day, she begins to investigate the Pacific Gas & Electric Company and discovers they're dumping toxic waste into the water supply of Hinkley, California. By using her...[[IHaveBoobsYouMustObey considerable assets]]...she begins a legal battle that would end up the largest class action lawsuit in American history. Yes, this is BasedOnATrueStory, and Erin Brockovich is a real woman. She gets a cameo as a waitress in a GreasySpoon restaurant.
The film was nominated for five Oscars, but won only one: JuliaRoberts' only Oscar win for Best Actress. AFI lauded Erin as one of its "Heroes" (#31), and the film as one its most inspirational (#73).
!!This film provides examples of:
* AmoralAttorney: Pretty much the entire PG&E legal team.
** As well as the guy representing the doctor who hit Erin's car and injured her, trying to make her look like a promiscuous money-grubbing liar.
** [[http://www.cracked.com/article_19564_6-based-true-story-movies-with-unpleasant-epilogues.html And the real-life Brockovich.]]
* BeautyIsBad: The other secretaries take an instant dislike to Erin. Her often abrasive personality probably doesn't help, but their attitudes seem to be based solely on how she looks and dresses.
* BecauseISaidSo: Played for a surprising amount of drama when Erin explains the water contamination to one of the residents of Hinkley. The mother looks outside in horror at her kids in a swimming pool and rushes to get them out. When the kids ask why they had to get out, she yells, "Because I said so!"
* BittersweetEnding: A meta-example that borders on DownerEnding. The movie ends at Erin successfully suing PG&E. But what wasn't shown was Brockovich being [[BlackAndGreyMorality just as bad as PG&E]], as she and her firm withheld the money that should've gone to the residents of Hinkley for months getting big bonuses as people were still sick or dying. Along with people getting seemingly random amounts of money, Brockovich managed to cross the MoralEventHorizon by taking a 1/3 of cancer-stricken children's settlements, despite the fact that it's frowned upon to take more than 25%. And she's immortalized through an Academy Award winning movie, arguably making her a real life example of a KarmaHoudini.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The shot of Erin on the DVD cover never appears in the movie, save for a deleted scene.
* DirtyOldMan: Erin thinks an old guy who keeps lurking around is one of these. Although he does express some interest in her, it turns out he was just working up the nerve to tell her some sensitive information.
* DisappearedDad: Erin's two ex's. Given the implication that she's receiving no financial help from either of them, they're deadbeats as well.
* FaceHeelTurn: Brockovich pulled one in real life.
* FallenOnHardTimesJob: Albert Finney's practice is portrayed as a small-time study in diminished expectations.
* HappilyMarried: A few throwaway lines of dialogue and some deleted scenes establish Ed and his never-seen wife as this.
* HelloAttorney: Or rather, Hello Legal Assistant, in Erin's case.
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Brockovich. The movie portrays her as a tireless activist purely because it's The Right Thing To Do. It leaves out the fact that she was after a ''very sizable'' cut of the settlement as well and made millions of dollars that way... or at the least, portrays it as a "happy side effect".
* IBrokeANail: Erin, right before her car gets T-boned at the start of the film.
* IHaveBoobsYouMustObey: "They're called boobs, Ed."
* AMillionIsAStatistic: Averted. Over the course of her investigations Erin comes to know every single one of the 600 or so residents of Hinckley, to the surprise to a couple of less-attached lawyers.
* NotInMyBackyard: One of the main reasons people find the story compelling.
* RagsToRiches: Erin goes from having $16 dollars in her bank account to landing a steady job, getting raise after raise, a $5000 bonus plus a new car, and finally, a $2 million check. The citizens of Hinkley count too. Although the way the money was distributed is not known, it's likely that they're all better off financially then they were before.
** Of course, if it was distributed like it was in real life, it's actually a DownerEnding since Brockovich and her firm stole pretty much all of the money.
* RealPersonCameo: The real Erin Brockovich plays a waitress (lampshaded, as the waitress' name is Julia R.)
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: There's an interesting, but very different, story about underhanded industry lawyers hiring gumshoes to illegally invade the privacy of common citizens versus a pair of lawyers with an uncomfortably close relationship to the arbitration judge.
** The real Brockovich and her team of lawyers was also less than above-board in how they distributed funds to the Hinkley residents (see [[http://www.cracked.com/article_19564_6-based-true-story-movies-with-unpleasant-epilogues.html here]]).
* WaterSourceTampering: PG&E tries to cover up the fact that they were poisoning the groundwater of the town Hinkley, California with Hexavalent Chromium, which resulted in most of the town suffering from illness and cancer.
* WhamLine: "Would it be important if, when I worked at the plant, I destroyed documents?"