The Day After Tomorrow

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Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Producers: Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon
Dennis Quaid
Jake Gyllenhaal
Emmy Rossum
Something’s up with the world’s weather. Hail storms in Japan, snow in New Delhi and monsoon tornadoes in Hollywood. The only person who knows the score is the character played by Dennis Quaid, whose son is stuck in New York City as the tidal wave of the millennium is about to hit. Houston…yeah, we’ve got big, BIG problems, dude!!
Like most summer movies, I think you’re likely to get out what you put into this film, since it basically delivers in all of the standard elements that we’ve come to expect from both “event” and “Emmerich” films and that’s plenty of over-the-top special effect-laden disasters, plenty of characters for whom you’re not likely to buy a “Sorry, you’re dead” card upon their demise and plenty of mindless, cheesy, frivolous entertainment value. One thing I really liked about this film was its extremely effective set-up, which lasts about an hour or so, and develops in it both the basic characters with whom we are going to spend time, the elements required to build the suspense to come and obviously…the superb special effects featuring cities like Los Angeles and New York being decimated by ravaging climactic anomalies. One of the many reasons that I love watching movies so much is because a decent percentage of films are created as “popcorn fare”-motion pictures created solely for the purposes of allowing the viewer to travel into a whole other realm for a couple of hours, pretend that they’re actually engaged in that world and feel somewhat liberated and entertained by it all. I felt that way during this film, which despite an admittedly less exciting second half (where do you go after a spectacular tidal wave washes through downtown Manhattan halfway through a movie?), still managed to keep me somewhat engaged all the way through the end. In fact, even before seeing this film, I wondered what the heck they could do in the story once the initial mayhem of the disasters had taken place, and expecting something a lot less interesting, wasn’t horribly let down by the film’s focus on the search/rescue thereafter (although I could have done without the whole “wolves” thing)

That said, it’s still a letdown and ultimately ends on a whimper, especially when you consider the awesome mayhem that comes before it. Like most Emmerich flicks, we also get the typical over-use of characters (you don’t need to include someone from every minority group in every one of your movies), the crappy dialogue from time to time, the unbelievable circumstances, the fuckin’ dog (!!), the forced attempt to slip a “message” into the movie (if I wanted a lesson on the environment, I’d join Greenpeace) and the superfluous attempts at emotion (Sela Ward and her hospital kid) Some of the stuff was also included for the obvious sake of “exposition” to the audience, like when one of the characters turns to Gyllenhaal and says “It’s been raining like this for three days straight”-dude, you’ve been with him for the past three days…I think he already knows that! (Aaaaah, but the audience doesn’t…I get it now) Like most event flicks, if you really want to pick this one apart, it’s easy to do, but c’mon man…there’s a tidal wave washing over New York City…lighten up, it’s just a movie! My personal favorite is Quaid’s character braving the fuckin’ snowstorm of the millennium by wearing a yellow parka, mittens and sleeping in a tent. Makes sense to me! All in all, I can’t say that I was ever really bored during this film, enjoyed most of the actors, specifically Quaid who was a nice anchor and Gyllenhaal, who felt like a good “fit” and really loved the CGI stuff, all of which came off really well. I’ve also become an instant fan of newcomer Emmy Rossum, who lit up the screen with her pretty smile and glowing cheeks. She played Sean Penn’s daughter in MYSTIC RIVER.

Note: To anyone who’s ever caught in a situation close to this one in real life: listen to the dude who says his dad’s a “paleoclimatologist” instead of the library security guard when it comes to matters about the weather. Just FYI.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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