The Day After Tomorrow Movie Review

Move over, Shrek 2. DreamWorks' ode to ogres in love produced its fair share of guffaws, but it can't hold a candle to Roland Emmerich's latest world-in-peril thriller The Day After Tomorrow, clearly the funniest film you'll see this year.

Laughs may be unintentional, but they come at a fast and furious clip. A news chopper flies alongside multiple tornadoes marauding Los Angeles but remains airborne and unscathed. Survivors holed up inside of New York's public library are advised to "ride out" a pending ice age, which I thought typically lasted thousands of years. A Rhode Island-sized block of ice breaks off its glacial base, and the crack just happens to run through the middle of climatologist Jack Hall's (Dennis Quaid) Antarctic camp. And former Riptide star Perry King plays the President of the United States! C'mon people, that's funny.

These disastrous scenarios come courtesy of some abrupt climate shifts that Hall shouts about in his best Chicken Little voice. Global warming, it seems, is melting the Earth's ice caps, which in turn are affecting the temperatures of ocean currents that create our warmer climate regions. Resulting storms that resemble hurricanes are sitting squarely over the planet's northern hemispheres. Hall states that a series of recent climate shifts mirror prehistoric patterns that signaled the start of an earlier ice age, and he predicts that a similar freezing will occur in the next 7 to 10 days.

It didn't make much sense to me as I watched it, and it makes less sense as I type it out. But who cares, right? So long as major cities get some massive face lifts, summer movie junkies should be mighty pleased. Emmerich delivers plenty of gawk-worthy popcorn goodies in his Weather Channel upgrade. Snow falls in New Delhi. Hail the size of basketballs bombards Tokyo. And in Manhattan the sewers back up, causing a debilitating stench... so nothing new there.

Tomorrow should be a lot more amusing that it actually turns out to be. The already-slow-moving production pauses frequently for philosophical ramblings on our abuse of the environment. Emmerich stacks the odds against his characters in such a clumsy fashion that laughs build instead of tension. It's hard to get all worked up over rain, sleet, and snow. Doesn't the post office deal with this on a regular basis?

Sensing a potential dissatisfaction in his CGI situations, Emmerich oversteps the boundaries of credibility and makes potentially threatening scenarios seem silly. A thrilling race to retrieve penicillin from an ocean liner grows ridiculous when Tomorrow tosses escaped wolves into the mix. The "outrunning the ice" sequence defies all forms of logic, especially when you notice that certain characters aren't even wearing gloves in what's supposed to be subzero weather.

When it comes to developing credible human relationships, Emmerich as screenwriter proves he's all wet. Quaid gets credit for keeping a straight face while burping out phrases like "super cool air from the upper troposphere." His typically frigid performance, however, ices over any chemistry felt between he and his alienated wife (Sela Ward) and stranded son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Oceans rise and temperatures drop. Impressive set pieces are frozen over or totally submerged. In between each death-defying sequence, Sam puts the moves on Laura (Emmy Rossum), the hot chick on his academic decathlon team. Wait one second. I'm willing to believe an ocean liner floating down Fifth Avenue. But a gorgeous brunette like Laura participating on the academic decathlon squad? My imagination can only stretch so far.

The new Collector's Edition DVD adds a second disc of extras, including two commentary tracks, a series of making-of documentaries, 10 deleted scenes, and more.

Sorry honey, that taxi cannot be used as a flotation device. Try the hat.


Comments

The Day After Tomorrow Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2004

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