The Day After Tomorrow
During its tense opening moments I wasn't sure which way The Day After Tomorrow
was headed. The disaster flic foreboding starts right away -- planetary temperatures go wonky, weather anomalies crop up, it's the literal calm before the storm. Yet there was also THE MESSAGE, lurking behind the effects like the classroom science nerd with his hand up. Global warming is, after all, unlike rogue comets and invading aliens; this is a very real, very topical, concern, and I thought maybe, just maybe, it was time to stop slurping the Moka-Java smoothie and listen to what was being said here.
But, of course, it's spring outside, and all serious issues get dropped faster than a homework assignment on a sunny day. Dennis Quaid -- the film's head science nerd -- yells to the Vice-President, "If we don't do something now it'll be too late!!", and, voila -- it is, indeed, too late. With dialogue that scintillating and credibility that shallow my brain instantly shut down for the remaining two hours. Who can concentrate on serious stuff when there's so many special effects to enjoy! I mean -- cyclones and floods, guys!
As you've likely figured out by now, that nonsense story about Republicans being put off by the film's message was nothing but good marketing. This is not a deep film with some added character subplots. Instead The Day After Tomorrow
anchors itself around cliche-driven characters who use global warming as motivation to act even more cliched. It's all about father and son relationships, husband and wife issues, buddies bonding over a crisis, and, naturally -- because it's Hollywood -- a young couple discovering love. In this supposed 'message-film', it's all about how everyone feels rather than that problem of a disintegrating climate right outside the door. See if you can guess how all of the above relationships turn out. That's right -- how'd you know?
And therein lies my source of my grumbling -- The Day After Tomorrow
turns out to be yet another BIG THEME movie with a cut-and-paste screenplay. All that's changed is the disaster. There's plenty of awe to be inspired by the degree of destruction rained down on the planet, the effects are monstrously big as all get-out and writer/director Roland Emmerich does his usual good job of pumping non-stop adrenaline. It's a two-hour Disney ride that doesn't disappoint.
But that's the extent of it -- a theme park ride. The Day After Tomorrow
never bores, but it never enlightens, either. There's a "Wow!" every minute, but it's never followed with, "...I never thought of that!" For an issue as crucial as global warming, the audience walks out of this film remembering nothing but huge walls of water. All morsels of real information are pummeled beneath the waves. What can we do as individuals to fight global warming? What should we expect of our governments? Damned if I know after watching this film. Sorry...what was I saying...oh yeah -- cyclones and floods, guys!!
It's a shame, really. Disaster films don't have to be synonymous with mindless effects. The similarly-named The Day After
was a 1983 made-for-TV movie about nuclear war that haunts me still and Titanic
managed to recreate a palpable aura of history around a then-85-year-old event, despite the film's romantic shlockery.
I'd recommend The Day After Tomorrow
as the fun summer flic it was intended to be. It's just too bad the day after tomorrow is about as long as you'll remember it.