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Movie Column

The end of the world, yay!



If you’re deeply into conspiracies and aliens, and are totally sure the end of the world is just a pubic hair’s breadth away, you’ll want to check out Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow , opening Friday.

While everyone, particularly the American government, is ignoring a brilliant climatologst (Dennis Quaid), the world’s weather, particularly the dreaded North Atlantic Current, is drastically changing. The next ice age is here and she’s comin’ on fast.

Quaid is forced to leave his wife (who’s busy caring for a child with cancer) and race to New York to save his genius son (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s stranded there on a field trip.

Emmerich, no stranger to destruction after directing Independence Day , and Godzilla , both wrote and directed this film outside the studio system, so it’s as much a political/environmental statement as it is a summer blockbuster. But don’t worry, politics take a back seat in The Day After Tomorrow , way back there next to good dialogue and original characters. But come on, Los Angeles being ravaged by tornadoes, a tidal wave pummels New York, thousands of on-screen deaths leading to an ice-covered, cataclysmic dystopia? Surely these are worth checking out on the biggest screen possible.

Of course the movie climaxes earlier than a virgin on prom night, and it does lack the half-naked female love interests (tough in a snowsuit movie) but it’s still kind of neat to watch the computer-generated destruction. Don’t expect The Day After Tomorrow to change your life – summer movies rarely do – but maybe the father/son bonding between Quaid and Gyllenhaal will help you remember that Father’s Day is coming up and you should maybe try and send that card on time this year.

I’m hoping the best ever End-of-the-world movie is yet to come (before the real end of the world hits us) but three of my favourites are:

• 1973’s Soylent Green starring Chalrton Heston living in an overpopulated, environmentally devastated, government-regulated wasteland.

• The Stanley Kubrick classic Dr. Strangelove (1964) a war room story starring Peter Sellers that is still really funny and pertinent today.

• And finally, 12 Monkeys (1995), where director Terry Gilliam ( Brazil, Fear and Loathing) sends prisoner Bruce Willis back in time from a grim, dead future to try and save humanity from a deadly virus believed to have been leaked by an underground organization. Also starring Brad Pitt, whose craziness steals the show, 12 Monkeys is apocalyptic cinema at it’s best.

A sure sign of the apocalypse is the amount of "feel-good" movies around these days. The tricky thing about sentimental garbage is there’s a real fine line between total crap, and total crap that inexplicably sells. Director Garry Marshall is a man who’s made a career out of walking that line. For instance, he directed Pretty Woman, A league of their Own, and Frankie and Johnny . Definitely not classics, I realize, but tolerable, albeit barely.

But wait, Marshall’s also doused us with such emotional swill as Beaches, Overboard, Runaway Bride and The Princess Diaries . Unfortunately for all but a few serious masochists, his new film Raising Helen belongs in the second group. Kate Hudson plays a sassy modelling agency worker who lives the New York dream of parties, models and money, i.e. true happiness.

This all changes when Kate’s sister dies (car crash of course) and, in her will, leaves our party girl with three school-aged children. This forces Hudson to grow up and realize you can’t really be happy until you calm down and raise a family.

The trailer for Raising Helen sums it up nicely, "The story of a woman who has to choose between the life she loves, or the new loves of her life." Yippee, I just gagged up a half mouthful of puke. Remember when you first saw Almost Famous and thought, "Yeah, that ruled. Kate Hudson, wow." Don’t worry, she can still do that, she’s just making money these days. She’ll be back… I hope.

Since it’s raining and you’re probably out of work, why not rent all three Lord of the Rings movies and watch them back-to-back. C’mon, it’s a good way to kill time while you wait for the world to end. ’Cause if we’re hoping to hold an Olympics in 2010, we’re gonna need another ice age.

At Village 8 May 28-June 3: The Day After Tomorrow, Raising Helen, Mean Girls, Troy, Van Helsing, Shrek 2.

At Rainbow Theatre May 28-June 3: Walking Tall.