San Andreas

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Director: Brad Peyton

Writer: Carlton Cuse

Cast: Dwayne Johnson as The Indestructible Hero, Carla Gugino as The Estranged Wife, Alexandra Daddario as The Imperiled Teenager, Ioan Gruffud as Mom’s Jerky New Boyfriend, Paul Giamatti as The Scientist Who Warned Everybody, Archie Panjabi as The Sympathetic Journalist, Hugh Johnstone-Burt as The Crisis Love Interest, Art Parkinson as The Precocious Kid, Will Yun Lee as The Sacrificial Black Asian Guy, Kylie Minogue as The Doomed Bitch

 

Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language

Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes

IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2126355

Plot: A rescue pilot searches for his daughter when the San Andreas fault finally splits California apart.

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Every critic has guilty pleasures. Some will marathon old martial arts movies, others might indulge in the occasional Adam Sandler “comedy.” I even know a guy who loves My Little Pony.

I have more than a few popcorn pleasures, and dumb disaster movies are near the top of the list. Give me stock characters, predictable scenarios, and outrageous mayhem, and I will cheer like a fan at the Superbowl.

I cheered a lot during San Andreas. Every stupid cliche is turned up to 11 (why bother looking up the characters’ names when we know their roles from the beginning?). It’s got enough creative obstacle courses and cheesy drama to make Irwin Allen proud. Plus, much better special effects than the toy models of the ‘70s.

They don’t call Johnson “The Rock” for nothing, and he’s one of the few people who can play the Indestructible Hero convincingly. His skills have magically transferred to his family, as they all avoid falling buildings and raging waters, while nearly everyone around them dies horribly. Even Gugino’s heels don’t stop her from successfully outrunning a cloud of debris, over broken pieces of a roof, while that roof is gradually caving in.

Peyton checks off all the boxes, from Johnson’s genius tough-guy introduction to a hilariously weird patriotic coda. His Imperiled Teenager daughter knows everything about her dad’s job, so she figures out how to survive in the most extreme conditions, while everyone else wanders around getting killed. (My dad worked for the gas company for 25 years. I know to haul ass when you come across that rotten egg smell. That’s it.)

If you know the genre, you can pinpoint exactly which characters are going to die and when. You can predict which laws of physics will work, based on what will most benefit the main characters. You can marvel at the stupidity of just about everyone except our heroes.

It’s a blast. By the time the tsunami hits – complete with a loaded cargo ship heading straight for Johnson and Gugino – the only option is to lean back and enjoy the ride. And what a crazy, silly ride it is. 5/29/15

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