Film Fare...with Mark Moorehead
Day After Tomorrow
General Audience: B
Imagine what it would be like if Stephen King ran the Weather Channel. Mother Nature takes revenge against OPEC. No laughing matter, although the audience didn’t seem to agree. No violence, language, sex or nudity.
Family Audience: B-
Rated PG-13 due to intense situations of peril. Realistically, though, merging on the Broadway curve at morning rush hour is still scarier. Brief scene of a few frozen bodies. No other objectionable material for children.
Let’s see, a slew of tornadoes batter down Los Angeles, hail the size of grapefruit decimates Tokyo and a tsunami floods the Big Apple a day before it plummets into a deep freeze. No, this is not a commercial for State Farm--it’s The Day After Tomorrow, an insurance company’s worse nightmare.
As disaster movies go, Day After employs the standard formula used since War of the Worlds in 1953 and as recently as Independence Day: Include an alarmist scientist who appeals in vain to the government to take action, split up family members and place them in mortal peril and provide a young, brilliant female love-interest for one of leading men.
There are a score of other essential elements in this equation, but why count? Few fans of disaster movies lament the lack of originality in the script. It’s the visual impact, special effects and sound of cracking ice that fans are looking for.
The expectation that the destruction will be more sensational than in previous disaster films is far more important than dialogue. Director Roland Emmerich knows this because he co-wrote and directed Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.
Clearly, a lack of snappy dialogue or, for that matter, any dialogue don’t seem to harm the average disaster film.
However, dialogue that makes an audience laugh out loud significantly enhances a disaster film. Despite the Day After Tomorrow’s harrowing premise, there’s unforgettable dialogue that will make you burst at the seams in laughter.
For example, there’s a scene where a tide of Anglo-Americans is rushing across the border into Mexico while a news broadcaster announces that the president of the United States has decided to forgive all loans to Latin America.
In another scene Mexican federales have closed the border and the president of Mexico protests the massive influx of American “illegals.”
It’s not clear if Emmerick deliberately wrote the lines for this effect, but the images and dialogue are a timely and hilarious juxtaposition to the more somber images seen in the evening news of illegal aliens crossing the border into our country.
Unintended political humor also rears its head, and some Republicans will cry foul. In the film, America’s on-screen president resembles George W. Bush and the vice president looks like Dick Cheney.
After the president is briefed on the impending natural disaster about to befall the northern states, he turns to the VP and meekly asks, “What do you think I should do?”
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of inside jokes in The Day After Tomorrow. There are plenty more.
But remember: It’s the special effects you came to see. And, not disappointingly, they are spectacular.
Using state-of-the-art CGI (computer-generated images), director Emmerick produced virtually all of the scenes, including virtual wolves—although I’ll admit CGI does a better job creating cities and landscapes than it does animals.
The Day After Tomorrow is evidence that CGI is one step closer to a time when shooting on location will be a thing of the past.
Environmentalists will appreciate the danger-of-global-warming prediction this film carries. These folks certainly will say that, if we heed its message, there’s still time to avert disaster. Thankfully, the dire effects of global warming as depicted in the movie won’t occur any time soon. Too bad, the old joke might suggest. According to the post-apocalyptic maps that appear in The Day After Tomorrow Arizona is suddenly transformed into the most desirable real estate in North America. My kid is already shopping for a surfboard.