Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, Kenneth
Welsh, Ian Holm, Dash Mihok
He can try all he likes, but I doubt director Roland
Emmerich will ever be able to make a sillier
movie than his 1998 travesty Godzilla. That’s
not to say this isn’t a good try. In fact
I’d say The Day After Tomorrow is already
the leading candidate for the silliest movie of
The threadbare plot for The Day After Tomorrow
revolves around a climatologist, Jack Hall (Quaid,
in a flat, phoned-in performance), who predicts
that a massive storm could be brewing as a result
of years of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet despite
a series of forbidding harbingers, he fails to convince
a sneering Vice President (who bears more than a
passing resemblance to the actual VP) of the danger
of inaction. Well surprise, surprise, the Cassandra-like
Hall is vindicated when a gigantic storm does indeed
show up to wreak havoc on the Northern Hemisphere.
Tornadoes destroy LA, an enormous tidal wave floods
New York City, and a new ice age is wrought in the
aftermath. Emmerich, as you may recall, has a real
yen for destroying New York, having already demolished
parts of it in Independence Day and Godzilla.
Not surprisingly the special effects are the most
impressive thing about the film. Emmerich does have
a fetishist’s eye for destruction, so the
film might just have left us alone to appreciate
the carnage, but of course as The Day After Tomorrow
is a by-the-numbers Hollywood disaster film. We
can’t have destruction in a vacuum, therefore
we are presented with various trite subplots designed
to provide what you might call “human interest”.
One of these subplots involves Hall’s son,
who is trapped by the insta-ice age in New York
City’s huge public library. There he and a
band of colorful refugees fend off the cold and
wolves (a nice touch I thought) till his hitherto
neglectful daddy comes to get them. This part of
the story makes perhaps the least sense of all,
as the guilt-ridden father takes off on a suicidal
quest (with expendable buddies) to see his son.
It’s not at all clear that he can do anything
to rescue them, but damn it he’s goin’
to try! (This reminds me of the wretched Lost
In Space movie, where the crusading scientist
was guilt-ridden over neglecting his brats. Seriously,
if your job has anything to do with fate of mankind,
then I think you can reasonably get away with missing
a few Little League games. But I digress.)
With its eco-theme, and none-too-subtle partisan
jab at Cheney,The Day After Tomorrow
has made news by picking up the endorsement of environmental
groups, despite the implausibility of its premise.
Which confirms to me that environmental groups are
becoming something like the secular equivalent of
religious doomsday-sayers. They share with religious
zealots a conviction that mankind’s decadence
and overconsumption are grave threats to the world
and that there must come a reckoning. In the apocalyptic
destruction of The Day After Tomorrow, the
environmentalists may have found their own fire
and brimstone sermon to stir the masses. Perhaps
a fitting tag line for this would be “Repent
sinners, the end is nigh!”
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...