I saw “Independence Day” the summer it came out, although not right away. I had to be sucked in by the hype and by the (generally) good word-of-mouth, fool that I am. I tried to relax into the spirit of no-IQ Hollywood fun, but I discovered, not for the first time, that there’s a threshold to my suspension of disbelief, and perhaps it’s located at the point where we’re asked to believe average people can fly F-15 fighter jets after half an hour of training.
I was so mystified by this moronic film’s popularity that I dashed off a column saying, in effect, what the hell? For the newspaper equivalent of a summer movie, the column’s impact amazed me. I got tons of mail and phone calls from other disappointed moviegoers. My favorite single comment came from a total stranger, who pulled his car to the side of the road when he saw me walking down a sidewalk in downtown Fort Wayne, rolled down his window and shouted, “I thought that movie sucked too!”
This weekend greets yet another preposterous disaster film from the same director, The Day After Tomorrow, and early reviews say it’s more of the same. Actually, movies like this aren’t so bad, because the pans are fun to read. My old screenwriting prof Terry gets a joke in his very first paragraph: We first meet Jack Hall, the dashing climatologist hero — three words I never thought I’d string together — of the eco-disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow”…
The two-star review goes on to point out groaner after groaner — About all that smells real is the White House discovering that Los Angeles is being leveled by multiple tornadoes: “Quick, turn on the Weather Channel,” yells some policy wonk … — and maybe it’s good that they are groaners, to minimize the chance anyone might take it seriously, to assume that global warming can cause, within days, melting polar ice caps followed by a new ice age.
But who knows? Last spring, when Arthur Miller came to Ann Arbor, he threw out an aside, that because of global warming the U.K. is “within five years” of a crippling wave of ice-agey weather that will make life there impossible. I looked at Alan and said, “He’s an old man.” Just to be safe, though, I told our BBC fellow to buy a good parka at the end-of-season sales.