MoveOn.org, a democratic, internet-based advocacy group, billed The Day After Tomorrow as "The Movie the White House Doesn't Want You To See." For once, the White House demonstrates some good taste. This summer blockbuster is a disaster of a movie.
What separates The Day After Tomorrow from other inadequate blockbusters is the potential behind the idea. This isn't some wild premise about oil riggers landing on an asteroid that is flying towards Earth. The Day After Tomorrow's disasters result from global warming's effects on the environment. This premise spiked MoveOn.org's interest (as well as the interest of other politicians, like Al Gore), but the film fails to capitalize on the important issue.
Dennis Quaid stars as Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist who has a theory to explain the dramatic climate changes that occur in the film. After briefing the president on the issue, he travels from Washington, D.C. to New York to rescue his stranded son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal). Jack walks through the frozen conditions of a new Ice Age that is wreaking havoc on Earth.
In any summer blockbuster, the facts are skewed, and this is the case with The Day After Tomorrow. Still, for a movie that desperately wants to be relevant, it works hard to negate its importance. Quaid discusses random scientific ideas that may or may not exist. People commit random acts of stupidity in the face of death. Wolves from the beginning of the film randomly reappear later on -- obviously, wolves are not affected by freezing temperatures. And the main characters narrowly escape an encounter with a travelling, death-inducing freeze. I wish that I was making this up.
When the film tries to be relevant again, all hope is lost. The Vice President's national address at the end of the film reeks of hypocrisy, begging the viewer to feel sorry for the victims when earlier the film was cracking jokes amidst death and destruction. The film is so bad that the question, "Could this actually happen?" takes a backseat to the question, "How did this movie get made?"
Presented with an opportunity to make a relevant blockbuster, Roland Emmerich ignored it. Instead, he opted for the conventional path, the one where the damage of global warming still allows the young stud to get the girl and the proud papa to reconcile with his son. Emmerich continues to feed us Hollywood's little white lies.