The director of 'Independence Day,' 'Godzilla' and 'The Patriot' has certain attributes, all of which are given full vent in 'The Day After Tomorrow.' He's crude, stupid, slick, cornball, predictable, laughable, relentless, trivial and, the sum of all these, ridiculous. He's never made a movie you could believe and he still hasn't.
Among our many crimes as an imperialistic exploiter of other nations' cultures, stealing their movies ranks lower than selling them cigarettes but higher than killing their game. If you've seen big stupid American versions of France's 'Three Men and a Cradle' or, recently, Japan's 'Shall We Dance?,' you can only mutter: 'Guilty, guilty, guilty.'
I never feel so utterly fraudulent as when I review a movie whose charms impress all in the world and I simply do not get it. The other variant is that I love something the world disdains. This has had severe career consequences: I am still famous - or notorious - in certain quarters where I am recalled as the man who liked 'Hudson Hawk.'
Considered purely as effects-driven filmed drama, 'The Day After Tomorrow' checks in somewhere in the middle of one of Hollywood's most absurd and least lamented dead genres, the disaster pic of the '70s. It's a little better than 'Earthquake' but not as good as 'The Towering Inferno,' because it doesn't star Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.
I remember the early 1980s, when I first got one of these fabulous film critic jobs. The downside was sitting through 'Splatteria III: The Dismembering of the Clampett Clan' or 'The Oklahoma Meatgrinder Massacre' or some such. The headaches unleashed by watching attractive kids die week after week after week cannot be imagined.
Since I'm a story-oriented critic, sometimes it's difficult to discuss issues without defining them. At the same time, I try not to give away anything that hasn't been given away in first half, in TV commercials, or that isn't obvious from the set-up of the movie. My editors are aware of this tendency of mine and read carefully for spoilers.
The horror movie will not go away. Look at the change in the Hollywood landscape as a signifier of its durability. At one point it was just one of many styles of films called 'product' that between, say, 1930 and 1970, the movie city ground out like sausages or hula hoops at a rate of four or five a week.