Jay O. Sanders
Release: 28 May 04
|The Day After Tomorrow
BY: DAVID PERRY
In the pantheon of liberal finger-wagging eco-disaster films,
I guess The Day After Tomorrow might be a technical high point, not that
Irwin Winkler left the bar too high in the first place. Like the gonzo
anti-nuclear Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow is the work of a German green,
enjoying himself as he posits politics with chaos, barely thinking about
whether the audience will get the joke.
Luckily, this film, unlike any of his previous works, layers the good humor
in such liberal smatterings that its occasions of pomposity are forgivable.
Heís not treating this as a Michael Bay project in which the audience is
coolly left the side as the director shows off, only gesturing to them when
itís time to cry. The Day After Tomorrow, although certainly maudlin at
times, seems like the anti-Bay -- itís self-conscious of the baggage people
bring to these disaster films, and willing to turn it upside down. Where
most of the films in the genre dare the audience to question the logistics
(a collective that includes Emmerichís earlier work with Dean Devlin on
Independence Day), this one throws everything to the wind. What fails to be
believed is quickly covered by its nudge of acknowledgement. Itís Twister on
steroids, willingly acting stupid because thatís part of the fun.
And for that reason, I think that the politics go down a little smoother.
Even when I wondered how much further Emmerich could punish the audience
with its father-son dynamic (though it has nothing on Sokurovís Father and
Son), his willingness to couple it all with pandering to the left was
shockingly fresh (originality is not quite Emmerichís best known attribute).
The Dick Cheney look-alike, the simpleton president, the scientists praying
for prudent eco-policy in an administration of smoke screen, all is purely
fanatic Green propaganda, coming in time for the face off between Kerry and
Nader for their votes. Bush, demonized at a height unknown to populist films
of late, gets the next to last laugh: the blue state northerners are forced
to migrate to the red states in the south to keep warm (who knew the
Mason-Dixon Line had the power of defrost?). But his laughter is short
lived: with an environmental policy already trounced, the Republican
immigration policy gets the next slap in the face.