The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee

Day After Tomorrow, The (10/12/2004)

Rated PG-13 (for intense situations of peril)

Directed by Roland Emmerich (The Patriot, Godzilla, Independence Day)

Starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal

Jonathan's Rating: Theatre Worthy

The Director of Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot brings us another disaster film . . . not that audiences don’t like disaster films. I can’t explain it, but from films as old as Airport 75 and The Towering Inferno all the way to films like Titanic and . . . yes, Independence Day, audiences seem to like to have their emotions twisted and their senses of survival stimulated.. There’s something we admire or maybe even hope to identify with when we see normal people act heroic when they are thrust into far-from-normal crisis situations.

The plot is simple. A new ice age is coming, but only a handful of scientists see it. And they aren’t taken seriously . . . until it’s too late! The polar ice caps are melting, the ocean is rising, and much of America is destroyed. (Personally, I think Roland Emmerich just likes to destroy New York and LA on film!)

But two distinct heroes emerge. One is in Washington D.C, and one is in New York. One is in his 40’s, the other is in his 20’s. They both rise to the occasion, they both perservere to the end. Maybe it’s in the blood . . . they’re father and son. (Quaid and Gyllenhaal)

The Day after Tomorrow was a fun film in the same way that Independence Day was fun. It isn’t as good as I.D., primarily because it didn’t have Will Smith as comic relief. But it did have great special affects and strong performances. Even small roles were handled by talent like Ian Holmes, who is far from just another character actor.

Regardless of your taste of genre, you’ll be impressed with the effects when you see New York City with a Russian Cargo Ship floating down the middle of the street. The film has plenty of eye candy and that alone will probably keep your interest.

And the film might kick off some interesting discussion as well. Especially a powerful scene between Jack (Dennis Quaid) and scientist Terry Rapson (Ian Holme). Jack finds out that they have just 72 hours before complete disaster. Feeling helpless, he asks Terry, “What can we do?” Terry responds, “Save as many as you can.”

But the film is also filled with scenes of comic relief, like when the group in New York are burning books to stay warm in the freezing library. Two characters get into a disagreement about whether it’s okay to burn the “great scholar Nietzsche.”
    Jeremy: Friedrich Nietzsche? We can't burn that! He's one of the most important thinkers in history!
    Elsa: Please! Nietzsche was a syphilitic chauvinist who was in love with his own sister.
    Jeremy: He was not a chauvinist!
    Elsa: But he was in love with his own sister.
    Brian Parks: (interrupting) Uh, yeah, guys? We got a whole section on tax laws down here we can burn!
Should kids see it?
It might be a little too intense for young children. But I wouldn’t hesitate to let my 11 year old see it. And I recommend showing the film to teenagers for the doors of discussion that it can open.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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