Saved, The Day After Tomorrow?

Tsunami strikes The Statue of Liberty in scene from movie "The Day After Tomorrow", AP

CBS News Sunday Morning's John Leonard has weathered another week at the movies. He reviews "Saved!" and "The Day After Tomorrow."


I will go see Mary-Louise Parker in almost anything, which is how I ended up at the teen movie "Saved!" -- a sort of born-again "Heathers" or maybe "The Last Breakfast Club." In it, single-mom Mary Louise is one of only two adults. Everybody else is a student at American Eagle Christian High School, where they major in piety and pep.

Jena Malone, who tells us "I've been born again my whole life," is our heroine, super-smart but unable to tell even her mother, Mary Louise, what's on her mind. Nobody knows Jena is pregnant from trying to save a gay boyfriend from a "treatment" center, but, upon the urging of Pastor Martin Donovan, the teen clique led by Jesus-freaky Mandy Moore turns on her for bad vibes. She is taken in by the outcasts, like skateboard champ Patrick Fugit, who also rides a mean scooter; and Jewish bad girl Eva Amurri, who's in terrific company with born-again actor Macaulay Culkin. All heck breaks loose at the prom.

But "Saved!" isn't "Carrie." Too good-hearted to include anybody really evil, it makes satiric fun of people for whom Christianity is a design accessory and a market niche. The target is hypocrisy, not religion. Meanwhile, we get to watch a lot of talent with perfect timing. Whereas, in "The Day After Tomorrow," the people are ridiculous, but the Weather Channel eats them like a snack.

Who cares if climatologist Dennis Quaid will make it on snowshoes to the public library in the Winter Palace of Manhattan to save his son, Jake Gyllenhaal, from a tidal wave and a deep freeze? In disaster flicks, and only in disaster movies, fathers always save their sons, and even the girlfriends of those sons, if they look like Emmy Rossum. And who even cares if Kenneth Welsh, as a vice president who refuses to believe Quaid, looks like Dick Cheney? We go to these films to see hailstones in Tokyo, snow in New Delhi, tornadoes in Los Angeles, and New York turned into an ice cube tray, while the rest of the U.S. is trying to get into Mexico.

I omit the Bronx Zoo wolves, who attack Jake in the ocean liner parked in front of the library, where for some odd reason they are burning books instead of furniture. And the movie omits the Chrysler Building, which would have looked especially pretty as a popsicle. Yes, "The Day After Tomorrow" speeds up global warming from centuries to minutes. But carbon dioxide and SUVs have already done terrible things to salt marshes, wetlands, coral reefs, permafrost and the ozone layer. Drought and famine are next in line. The real question is whether disasters are so much fun to daydream about up on the big screen that we will actually wish them on the innocent heads of our grandchildren.
  • Rome Neal

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