Manero

Whole Lotta Shaking

By: Yehudit Mam

As your resident earthquake expert, whose qualifications include holding on for dear life in Mexico City's 1985 quake, (8.1 on the Richter scale), I must say that San Andreas is a disgrace.

Anyone who has ever been in an earthquake knows that time slows down like molasses when the Earth decides to do the conga. The filmmakers don’t understand that bookshelves swaying, plates clanging and walls creaking inside your rickety home are far more frightening than all the buildings of Los Angeles collapsing at the same time. Besides, if a puny 7.1 quake is what it takes to crumble the Hoover Dam like a cookie, we're in deep doodoo.

Any earthquake expert worth their salt will tell you that if the Hoover Dam collapses, what happens in Vegas cannot possibly stay in Vegas. Sadly, the filmmakers have not a sense of humor or an inkling of mischief, so we are left to imagine this delightful devastation on our own. I consoled and amused myself by wondering what Steven Spielberg could do with an 8.9 earthquake. That would be fun. This is not only not fun; it is punishment for having a brain. The plot of this movie is so offensive it made me want to see every American city flattened to dust. Why stop at L.A. and San Francisco?

The story is about a family headed by the Mount Rushmore of humans, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It includes his ex-wife (Carla Gugino), whose makeup doesn’t budge at 8.9 on the Richter scale, and their babe of a daughter (Alexandra Daddario), whose prominently displayed boobs, encased in the tightest tank top, wiggle solidly as San Francisco collapses around her. Her parents run around in choppers, planes, automobiles and boats trying to save her.

Except for the lovely scenes of massive destruction, and a decent tsunami, everything about this movie is wrong. Even Paul Giamatti, who is never wrong, does epic work trying to make his retarded lines as a scientist sound utterable. This movie has such little faith in our intelligence that they put a book about Einstein behind him so we know that he is a genius. San Andreas is like the Republican Party of movies: inane, condescending, and full of hot air.

The filmmakers don’t really care about earthquakes. Tragically, they care about heroes, despite the fact that no American action hero will ever be as charismatic as an earthquake. As his nickname suggests, Dwayne Johnson is as expressive as a block of granite. The cheesy script could have been done tongue in cheek; instead, it is smug and self-righteous. I wish this movie skipped the humans and just went for the mayhem. Instead, it has the bad taste to borrow imagery from 9/11 and cheaply exploit the narrative of rebuilding, complete with an American flag unfurling in the final scene. Disgusting.

LOGISTICS: San Andreas, now shaking at a theatre near you

Yehudit Mam has been in love with movies since her mom took her to see Krakatoa, East of Java when she was a little girl. She is a film blogger, a creative director in advertising, and cofounder of dada.nyc.