The Day After Tomorrow: Don’t Go There

The movie “The Day After Tomorrow” is the single most moronic film I’ve seen since “Bill and Coo,” an epic I was dragged to as a child, circa 1950. Bill and Coo were talking parakeets, The Day After Tomorrow is talking cretins.

The subject is global warming, kind of, which results in an overnight quick freeze of the northern hemisphere. As New York City is hit by serial tsunamis which overnight turn millions of people to multi-cultural ice cubes (all of it reported by the Fox Network whose logo appears constantly on screen in all kinds of contexts because Rupert Murdoch owns the Fox Network AND the movie) a cast of imbeciles sets out to save us from ourselves. But it’s too late. The lands of the white man are now subject to such severe weather they are rendered uninhabitable. Not that there are many whiteys left to inhabit them. If the sudden freezes don’t get them, the high tides and the tornadoes will. (It occurred to me that The Day After Tomorrow will undoubtedly be very popular in the Arab countries.)

The sole opportunity for something interesting to happen in the movie occurs near the end when our president freezes to death trying to get out of popsicle-ized DC and his successor, made up to resemble Dick Cheney, orders Americans to haul ass south for the border. Now if Anderson Valley Advertiser or CounterPunch readers had made the film, our fellow citizens, upon reaching San Ysidro, would have been turned back by the Mexican Army. “Tough tamales, gringos. You bastards think you’re going to get into the warm weather after what you’ve done to us all these years?” But in this thing, the Mexicans are happy as hell to take on a two hundred and fifty million of US as President Cheney advises Americans to hit the road for Mexico and points south for “what we used to call the Third World.”

Nice bit of straight-up racism in that one, but it’s read off without so much as a hint of irony. What we used to call the Third World! The gringos have arrived so you folks just got promoted to the First World! If you’re thinking of paying your way into seen “The Day After Tomorrow,” you might want to think again.

Here’s the story line: Dennis Quaid and a Scotsman are the only two scientists in the world who understand why LA is suddenly besieged by serial tornadoes. Nobody will listen to the only two guys who know the deep freeze is next. Quaid’s son and the kid’s love interest, both of whom are beyond vapid, are first stranded by tidal waves sweeping clean over the Big Apple and, when the high tides freeze over in 15 minutes, sonny boy and sweet thing hole up in the New York Public Library with exactly one black street person, the street guy’s dog, and a bunch of generically presentable white people. (More racism, but who’s counting at this point?) When the kid gets real cold, sweetie pie saves him from hypothermia via — you guessed it! — a prolonged round of rubbsies, solemnly explaining that as a high school honor student she’d learned in her advanced placement physiology class that a freezing man can quickly be thawed out if a 19-year-old girl with large breasts and bee stung lips dry humps him in front of a roaring fire.

Everyone outside the library had frozen to death early on, and not for lack of nymphets either. It was real cold, colder than it had ever been anywhere on earth, even way the hell up north at Santa’s workshop. The people who’d frozen to death outside had been too damn dumb to retreat to the top floor of the library when the water rose above their arm pits, so Darwin got ’em.

When the big waves froze and every living thing died except a pack of wolves, Quaid’s kid and a couple of his underwear ad buddies fight them off, naturally, while botox lips and the nice white people inside the library feed their life-saving fire in the library’s huge, decorative fire place with rare books. The black street guy and his dog, incidentally, never get close to the fire; they stand watch at the door, reporting on the latest catastrophe outside, like when an ocean liner becomes part of an iceberg on the front steps. A skinny, effete guy with big glasses — guess who he is — gives a speech about how he’ll freeze to death before he tosses the Gutenberg Bible into the fire. Who else besides skinny, effete guys with glasses read books or care what happens to them? Fat beatniks, that’s who, but no complications, no ironies were allowed into this filmic extravaganza.

No sirree. Anyhoo, because the librarian is a librarian, he’s responsible for Western Civ’s key artifacts, and he draws the line at the Gutenberg. (Actually, THIS movie is a lot more representative of Western Civ’s net accomplishment than the printing press, but there’s probably some dissent on the question, the issue being relative value in a value-free epoch.) Quaid sets out on foot in sub-Arctic conditions to check on his son. Dad says he wants to forgive the lad for flunking a high school math test. Most parents, of course, would settle for their kids not flunking drug and drunk driving tests, but we’re talking scholars here, and scholars and other securely upper-middle-class people are not only very nice people, so are their kids.

“I’ve walked farther than this in the snow,” Quaid says, setting out from the DC ‘burbs for a snow shoes and family values hike to Manhattan. Mrs. Quaid is a doctor, occasionally assisted by an Asian woman with timely references to Native American prophecies. My fellow movie goers I am here to tell you that no major ethnic group goes unrepresented! Mrs. Quaid, MD, looks very, very concerned and very, very compassionate. I could tell because her eyes got bigger and wetter the colder it got and the longer she was left behind in a frigid hospital ward with an eight-year-old leukemia patient while everyone else got into their LL Beans and highballed it for Ensenada and Sao Paolo. Mrs. Q. and the bald kid are presented for no other reason than to demonstrate that the Quaids are nice people, and Mrs. Q is double nice. The emphasis throughout was The Tragic Effect On Nice White People Caught Up In A Cataclysmic Event. I felt like laughing out loud a whole lot of times, especially when LA was wiped out, but I was in a mall theater in Springfield, Oregon, surrounded by solemn viewers who seemed to think they were watching a documentary. Audible laughter while the end of the world was under consideration might have been severely misunderstood.

The only good thing about the movie was an on-screen blurb at the end that said our fatso-watso ways of living were killing the planet, a statement of the obvious to everyone in the world except George Bush. But I was so upset by “The Day After Tomorrow,” as apocalyptic a viewing experience as I’ve ever had, that I walked briskly from the theater, pushed my way through the double-wide fatso-watsos thronging the mall, and strode directly to a shop specializing in negative food value items where I ordered myself a double-bubble mayonnaised banana split.

BRUCE ANDERSON is the publisher of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, America’s best weekly newspaper.