- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 27, 2004

The next time a political group hitches its wagon to a film, it better screen it first.Let’s give MoveOn.org members, the liberal activists trumpeting the global-warming tale “The Day After Tomorrow,” the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to imagine any group, left or right, thinking such a dumb picture could serve as a stirring polemic for their cause.

What in the run-up to the film threatened to be a two-hour ad against the Bush administration’s environmental record turns out to be a depth charge sinking the credibility of anyone claiming the film for its side.

Popcorn movies can be logically challenged, even a tad daffy at times. “The Day After Tomorrow” wears its lobotomy scars like a badge of honor.

The nonsense starts on a slab of the Antarctic ice shelf, where climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid, proving career resuscitations don’t always take) discovers some frightening weather anomalies.

Flash forward to a U.N. climate meeting where Jack’s grim forecast gets the stink eye from U.S. Vice President Becker (Kenneth Welsh), a clear stand-in for Dick Cheney. The president (“Riptide’s” Perry King) isn’t any better. He stares morosely at his advisers, pleading for input.

Jack predicts doom and destruction beginning anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years in the future.

He’s only off by 100 to 1,000 years.

Softball-sized hail begins falling in Japan. The temperature of the world’s oceans plummets.

Soon, tornadoes are gobbling up the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles along with every building within miles.

Once New York gets buried by water and snow, an admittedly spectacular sequence, there’s nothing else for writer/director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”) to say. Jack vows to get to his son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), in New York City, no matter the cost. Even if no human being should rightly be able to stand outside for minutes, let alone trek for days out in the elements.

By the time a pack of wolves somehow survives the snow to threaten our Big Apple heroes, it’s all one can do not to storm the theater box office for a refund.

The junk science underlying “Tomorrow’s” Ice Age has been deconstructed by even some liberal-minded scientists, but it’s not fair to write off a fantasy film based on rickety science. After all, we bought into a planet chock-full of civilized apes.

What’s more damaging is that Mr. Emmerich simply can’t convey how humans interact. Does the writer/director actually walk among us? You’d think he’d pick up some snippets of credible dialogue just by osmosis, if nothing else.

Mr. Emmerich isn’t without inspirational nuggets. Having astronauts view the Earth’s destruction from above gives us a novel perspective. And including a homeless character among the survivors sets up a touching scene in which he shows his fellow survivors how he keeps warm in brutal weather.

“The Day After Tomorrow” wraps with a politician apologizing for the United States’ domination of the world’s energy resources and for daring to call less-developed nations the “Third World.”

Michael Moore’s ideological antics look subtle by comparison.

The activists seem to have missed something obvious: If you want a global warming teach-in for the masses, first you have to get the masses into theaters.

The guess here is the masses will stay away from “The Day After Tomorrow” beginning the day after its opening.

*

WHAT: “The Day After Tomorrow”

RATING: PG-13 (Intense situations of peril)

CREDITS: Directed by Roland Emmerich. Written by Mr. Emmerich and Jerry Nachmanoff. Produced by Mr. Emmerich and Mark Gordon. Visual effects supervised by Karen Goulekas

RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes

WEB SITE: www.thedayaftertomorrowmovie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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