''Erin Brockovich'' is a 2000 film directed by Creator/StevenSoderbergh and starring Creator/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 persuades her lawyer to take her on as a legal assistant. While everyone else is very professional, Brockovich dresses 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 (about 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles by Interstate). 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 (and, in a cute little bit of irony, her name tag reads "Julia").
The film was nominated for five Oscars, but won only one: Creator/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.
** Subverted with the lawyers that Erin and Ed hook up with. They're not incompetent and they're determined to fight for the plantiffs, but they also clearly don't see the people as anything more than a name and a case number, unlike Erin, who cares about them and knows every detail of their lives.
* 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!"
* BlatantLies: "There are plenty of other places I could find work."
* 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.
* HairtriggerTemper: Erin tends to flip out and fly off the handle at anything she perceives as an insult. And God help if you if it ''was'' meant as an insult. Sometimes it comes in handy, such as when she tells off the lawyer offering a paltry settlement, but it's usually a problem, as evidenced by the fact that Ed has to all but beg her to keep her mouth shut at an important meeting. It finally bites her in the ass at the end when she flies into a rage at Ed, only to learn it was completely unwarranted.
* HelloAttorney: Or rather, Hello Legal Assistant, in Erin's case.
* HenpeckedHusband: Or boyfriend, rather. Not until the end of the movie does George get an ounce of gratitude from Erin for taking care of her kids while she's at work.
* 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, it portrays this as a "happy side effect".
** Her boyfriend George also. In the movie, he's just an all-around NiceGuy. In RealLife, shortly after the movie was released, [[http://cjonline.com/stories/042700/new_brockovich.shtml#.Vn4OzovSmM9 he tried to blackmail her by threatening to tell the media that she was an unfit mother and that she and Ed had had an affair]].
* IBrokeANail: Erin, right before her car gets T-boned at the start of the film.
* IHaveBoobsYouMustObey: "They're called boobs, Ed."
* LadySwearsalot: Erin. The real Erin Brockovich admits on her website that this part of her portrayal is accurate: "Yes, I had a potty mouth in the movie and I still do."
* 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 of a couple of less-attached lawyers.
* NotInMyBackyard: One of the main reasons people find the story compelling.
* TheNotLoveInterest: Erin and Ed.
* RaceLift: The RealLife man George is based on is Mexican-American.
* 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, were also less than above board, in how they distributed funds to the Hinkley residents (see [[http://www.salon.com/2000/04/14/sharp/ 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?"