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The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

27 May 2005 by Gnoll No Comment

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW


2004, dir. Rolan Emmerich

124 min, Rated PG-13.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Rossum, Ian “Slumming It” Holm.

Review by Gnoll

It’s hard to start a review of The Day After Tomorrow. I mean, I’ve already got a review of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich’s other big disaster flick on the site, and after you replace aliens with global warming and a crop of A-listers for B-listers, you pretty much have the same movie. But As terrible as Independence Day was, I fuckin’ love it. And yet, as much as Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich’s bid to recreate the magic of that film tries, The Day After Tommorow is a massive pile of suck. How is this possible, you might ask?

First off, the primary antagonist is the weather. The fucking weather. I don’t understand Hollywood’s fascination with making movies about the weather, but I just can’t generally muster up any care about them. Twister sucked, Hard Rain blew, and I never found myself interested in The Perfect Storm. Weather is a subplot, folks. It always should be.

On top of that, some genius in the think tank that created what would eventually develop into The Day After Tomorrow decided that despite being the primary antagonist, weather just wasn’t enough. To create that added level of suspense, we need to have some characters being chased by a pack of starving wild dogs. Not just any pack of starving wild dogs, mind you, but the pack that you saw coming a mile away because you saw that they had escaped two reels previous.

Besides, this film is preachy. And I don’t mean a little preachy, I mean a huge speech by the President of the United States (again, much like in ID4, the only country that really matters in the film) about how we can not go on using up our resources without consequenses preachy. And while I’m all for environmentalism, but I’ve met third graders who could come up with a more plausible scenario than the one here. I never thought I’d see a film that made Independence Day look realistic by comparison, but it took the same filmmakers to do it.

Let’s talk plausibility for a second. One of the main stories here involves Sam Hall (Jake Gyllenhaal, who I guess decided that making indie movies forever won’t pay the rent) being stranded in a library in New York and his father Jack (Dennis Quaid, who sure seems like he’s had it rough since Meg left him) deciding to rescue him from his predicament. The library has been frozen over except for the top couple floors, and a handful of people are struggling to stay warm and well-fed. Jack is coming from Washington. Oh, did I mention yet that the rescue will involve him walking?

Let’s forget for a second that it’s antarctic-like weather out there. Let’s forget that there’s snow on the ground that, even with snowshoes, will slow you down. It’s a good 225 miles between the two cities. As I know from spending time on a treadmill, 4 miles per hour is a pretty brisk walk. At that speed, it would still take about two and a half days to walk that distance, assuming you never stop and rest. Jack manages to cross this distance in what appears to be this amount of time, and every time we see him, he’s struggling to move at any more than one mile per hour.

And really, what is Jack going to go when he finds Sam? “Now we can freeze and starve to death as a family, son!” After he arrives, we see helicopters come in and save everyone, but why the fuck did Jack need to walk 225 miles in the snow beforehand? The main goddamn story arc is absolutely unnecessary, on top of being completely implausible. I don’t think I can think of another film whose story is that self-defeating (and not on purpose.)

And we can’t forget those moments where the real cold fronts hit. Suddenly, these arctic blasts come out of nowhere and freeze everything in sight within seconds. Fortunately, our heroes see them coming and can run away from them. They dive into abandoned buildings, or get that all-powerful conservatory door shut just in time. Whew.

Let’s also remember that the ice age comes about within 48 hours or something like that. Didn’t the last ice age take millions of years to occur? I will, however, say that it did greatly amuse me that the Americans were illegally sneaking in to Mexico to avoid the effects of the weather. The corporate crony VP who is an obvious mockup of Dick Cheney was a bit amusing as well.

But after all of this, at least the movie has a happy ending. Sure, those millions or even billions of people we never really met died a tragic death, but at least the kid with cancer and the homeless dude and his dog make it out okay!

Oh, sure, this movie is a technical masterpiece. You’d expect no less, I’m sure. Watching Los Angeles get obliterated by tornadoes and hail and seeing New York buried in a hundred feet of ice sure is breathtaking. But pretty can only do so much. It’s the Jessica Simpson of movies, I guess: most people think she looks nice and all, but they’ll all agree she’s dumb as a bag of rocks.

Somehow, despite the fact that the MCFTR collective rated this as the worst movie of 2004, it never received a proper review until just now. I’m guessing that nobody was bothered enough to go back and give it the amount of thought it takes to actually write about it. Until now, of course.

Al Gore gave The Day After Tomorrow a gleaming review. If I had voted for him, I would feel shame about that right now.

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