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Flirting With Disaster

Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid weather a fictional storm -- and a real-life political one -- with ''The Day After Tomorrow''

Jake Gyllenhaal | REIGN CHECK With ''Day After Tomorrow,'' this year's Memorial Day blockbuster hopeful, Gyllenhaal may emerge as a new kind of action hero
Image credit: Jake Gyllenhaal Photograph by James White
REIGN CHECK With ''Day After Tomorrow,'' this year's Memorial Day blockbuster hopeful, Gyllenhaal may emerge as a new kind of action hero

''The Day After Tomorrow'' -- director Roland Emmerich's latest grand disaster flick, revolving around a paleoclimatologist (Dennis Quaid) determined to save his New York City-trapped son (Jake Gyllenhaal) during a fast-descending Ice Age -- is certainly bigger than the German director's previous event flicks: It boasts a budget and special effects that seek to shame Emmerich's ''Stargate,'' ''Independence Day,'' and ''Godzilla.''

And it's faster, too: ''DAT'''s global-warming-triggered Ice Age rocks the world in a speedy (and scientifically impossible) few days -- plus there's the swiftness with which real-life environmental groups have launched awareness campaigns around the film. And it's funnier, with the casting of Canadian actor Kenneth Welsh as ''DAT'''s villainous, Kyoto-hating Vice President. Welsh is a ringer, you see, for a Veep Named Dick. ''Somebody said, 'But he looks like Cheney, we cannot cast him!''' the director recalls. ''I said, 'He looks like Cheney? Well, then he's cast!' I think it's strange how people in America constantly dance around things.''

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