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20th Century Fox

Official Site

Director: Roland Emmerich

Producers: Mark Gordon, Emmerich

Written by: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff

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 year.

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!”

—Edward Rholes

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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...

Mike Doughty

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