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"The Day After Tomorrow"

Directed by Roland Emmerich.
Written by Roland Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff.
Starring Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Emmy Rossum.
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  5/31/04


Think you can outrun...the cold?

In Roland Emmerich's new disaster flick "The Day After Tomorrow", there's a scene where a divorced deadbeat dad/climatologist named Jack (Dennis Quaid) has to literally outrun the weather, which is dropping in temperature at a ridiculous clip of ten degrees a second.  Jack is a bright guy, and when he sees buildings, statues and some loose metallic items freeze before his eyes, he does what any sane 45-year-old man would do in the same tight spot:  he jumps into a hole (which happens to be some kind of a lab) and shuts the door on it!

That's right--to save himself from literally freezing in place, he jogs to a room with a door, and shuts the door on that damned cold!  Take that, Mother Nature!

At the same time, Jack's son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal, famously in "Donnie Darko") and two of his friends outrun that same deep freeze by running into the New York Public Library, and they too outrun the cold by...slamming a wooden door on it!  Take that, cold!  My buddy Ross, who was in attendance this fine Memorial Day afternoon, actually had hoped that the filmmakers had found a way to humanize the cold character, so that after Sam had slammed the door on cold, we would have gotten a shot of Cold standing just outside the doorway and sitting there, with that look of "Damn.  They got me again!"

If you can excuse some of this hokey weather-related logistical bullshit, then "The Day After Tomorrow" does have a fair share of entertainment, thanks mostly to some pretty cool special effects and general mayhem from the king of disaster, after Emmerich's two other effects-laden superscale films, "Godzilla" and "Independence Day."  Although the Second Ice Age that dominates the film's weather comes on in quite a rush, the take on what it would do to the world is an intriguing one.  The film's first hour, which takes us from location to location as hail, tornadoes and snowstorms destroy many of the world's major cities, is as good as it was in "Independence Day" when all hell broke lose.  The major set piece involving a flood in New York City is well handled also; does anyone do random disaster death better than Emmerich?

But, after the major storm in New York, the film begins to falter noticeably, and we are left with a lukewarm romance between Sam and one of his classmates from DC (Emmy Rossum), and a lukewarm failed marriage between Jack and his doctor wife Lucy (Sela Ward).  The scenes between the action events are sometimes worse than they were in "Godzilla", simply one of the worst films ever made...but, even I howled during "The Day After Tomorrow" when Emmerich gives us a scene at the Mexican border where Americans are trying to cross the other way; just the idea that Americans would be kept out by Mexico's Border Patrol is fuckin' hilarious.

Tokens die where appropriate, and the ending works out as you would expect, although thankfully not in a way that Gordon Stokes called out near the end of the, if they had found a way to reverse the second coming of an Ice Age by dropping a nuke or some bullshit like you found in "Armageddon", I probably would have lost it.  It plays out the drama as long as you can stand it, and the performances by the hundreds of extras is great, classic run-around-as-if-you're-in-the-middle-of-the-apocalypse fun.  And, even though I saw it less than an hour ago, the details of the film are already starting to fade.  The classic Matinee! 

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09