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The Day After Tomorrow /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Dash Mihok

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Produced by: Ute Emmerich, Kelly Van Horn, Roland Emmerich, Mark Gordon
Written by:
Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Distributor: 20th Century Fox


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     There are three types of bad movies. The first is the kind that is so farfetched and stupid, it’s actually fun to watch and laugh at. The second is the kind that is just downright terrible in every way, both boring and painful to watch. The third—and rarest—is a combination of the two. This type of film’s content is so awful that, as hard as one may laugh at or enjoy the outlandishness of the product, it’s an absolutely unbearable experience. The Day After Tomorrow represents such a rarity. It certainly may provoke chuckles, but I’m not sure any viewer will even care. This is silly showcase of left-wing propaganda, disguised as disaster movie. When the President makes a speech that contains the line “We must thank our third-world allies for taking us in,” you know you’re in trouble. Scratch that. Not just trouble; danger is a much more accurate term.

     Screenwriters Roland Emmerich (who also directed it) and Jeffrey Nachmanoff tried to create a plot, but their efforts seem useless in a creation that hardly ever works. Dennis Quaid plays climatologist Jack Hall, who develops a theory that the planet will undergo an ice-age in anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years away, but his thoughts ream true much quicker than he expects. Shortly after he presents his thoughts at a conference in New Dehli, a series of unimaginable natural disasters begin to happen, which are triggered by a dramatic temperature-drop in the ocean. The President and Vice President of the United States are slow to act on the situation, and before long, citizens of the country are fleeing to Mexico for safety.

     Okay, fine. In our current society, global warming is an issue, but why is it always presented in such a nonchalant manner in film? The Day After Tomorrow is probably the least intelligent of all recent teen-flicks. And, of course, when trying to discuss the earth’s environmental issues, Emmerich has to go so far as to question the U.S.’s treating of other societies (and wrongfully at that), acting as a metaphor for our current political situation. The brain-dead execution of his movie is insulting to this country’s government.

     The movie primarily follows Jack’s son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), as he experiences the harsh weather on a trip to New York City. Under the advice his father gives him via pay-phone, he heads a band of survivors, as they fight the coming ice-age. Gyllenhaal is one of my favorite rookie actors in the movie industry, but The Day After Tomorrow should embarrass him. As he develops a forced relationship with an academic triathlon teammate (who he came to NYC to compete with) and plays hero, there’s nothing to admire about his work. It’s hardly Gyllenhaal’s fault, though. As far as I’m concerned, there was no way to make this script “work”, per se.

     The dialogue is some of the worst in years, perfectly complementing the dumb characters with smart ones, in order to allow every situation to play out in just the way the audience would like it to. Emmerich and Nachmanoff wish that we will feel as though there is some type of wisdom abundant in their movie, but there is none to be found in it. I, personally, wanted to vomit on the screen every time any character opened their mouth. The lines are generic and laughable, suppressing the movie of carrying any meaning, whatsoever. I suppose, though, that the plot didn’t allow for any witty talk in the first place. Here, contrivance translates into stupidity, taking even the most serious of ideas The Day After Tomorrow has to offer and pulling the plug on them. Even the characters vocabularies are limited; their word-choice alone is reason enough not to care for them.

     Yes, the special effects are amazing, but they’re hardly enjoyable, because of their poor contextual usage. The timing of the disaster sequences is all over the map, usually completely destroying all signs and stages of character development. Visuals no longer impress me simply for what they are. I’ve simply accepted the fact that computers can create wondrous looking things, nowadays. In order to be memorable, they must be implemented properly, as well as serve a purpose. I cannot credit those in The Day After Tomorrow for doing either of these things; they ceased to amaze me at every possible moment they had the potential to do so.

     The flick actually opens quite intriguingly, promising terrific things. To be able to say these were acted upon would be an impossible task. After watching two hours and four minutes of every load of crap The Day After Tomorrow has to offer, it is not hard to feel exhausted. In most cases, I don’t care about the politics of a team of filmmakers, as long as their opinion is presented in an engaging manner. Here, the task at hand is completely ignored, and the result is abysmal. Emmerich should be ashamed of himself for making this movie; it is an utter failure. Even though it does hold some value laugh-factor-wise, this does not nearly make it worth seeing. The last early summer “cinematic event” that was as disappointing as this one was Bad Boys II. Even making such a comparison is unsettling, to say the least.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (5.28.2004)

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