“It’s a Disaster – the Movie, That Is”
John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover
Directed by Roland Emmerich
The following is a transcript of the first pitch meeting that took place between Sony Pictures Entertainment and director-producer Roland Emmerich regarding his latest special effects disaster extravaganza “2012”…
Studio Head: Roland, great to see you! Come on in, and have a seat!
Roland Emmerich: Thank you, it’s great to be back.
Studio: So, what do you have for us today?
Roland: Oh, you’re gonna love this – it’s a disaster movie.
Studio: Oh, come now, Roland, another disaster movie? After “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow?”
Roland: Oh, but this one’s different! It’s the disaster movie to end all disaster movies, and the special effects are going to kick ass! And since the two movies you just mentioned grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide, this one’s guaranteed to make a ton of money as well!
Studio: Well, I like the sound of that, especially since your last movie for us, “10,000 B.C.,” underperformed with around $267 million worldwide.
Roland: Don’t you worry, “2012” is just the kind of movie that people want from me. And when it’s over, there won’t be anything left to destroy.
Studio: Okay, so gimme the pitch…
Roland: Here it is… It’s based on the ancient Mayan legend, the one that predicted the end of times on December 12, 2012.
Studio: Hmm, that’s just 3 years away – I can see the marketing hook now…
Roland: It turns out the Mayans were right. Extreme solar flares are going to cook the earth’s core, causing massive earthquakes, floods, fires, volcanic eruptions – you name it, we got it!
Studio: Sounds devastating, but how does it end? If you’re gonna destroy the world, don’t forget, you need a happy ending.
Roland: I have it all figured out. The story will be told from the point of view of a failed novelist, played by John Cusack. When all hell breaks loose, he tries to save his estranged family. So it’s all about their heroic struggle to survive.
Studio: I like it! But will moviegoers have fun seeing such massive destruction? How will they react to the sight of people getting crushed by skyscrapers?
Roland: It’s okay. We never see their faces, so it won’t matter. Besides, this is a popcorn flick. If you want gritty realism, go see “The Road.”
Studio: True, true, but will there be character development? You know, you gotta have characters that people will care about.
Roland: No problem, Cusack’s character will have plenty of time to bond with his kids and his ex-wife in between disasters. And another character will save her dog, just like in “Independence Day.” Because, really, what’s a disaster movie without a dog escaping from harm’s way in the nick of time?
Studio: Oh, Roland, you are good! But how’s the screenplay?
Roland: Screenplay? Who needs a screenplay? Haha, just kidding!
Studio: You are so funny, Roland! But I guess you’re right, no one’s gonna care what people are saying in a movie like this. So tell me more about those disasters? If I’m gonna spend top dollar, I want the best special effects that a nearly $200 million budget can buy!
Roland: Oh, you’ll get it, and how’s this for starters? California finally gets hit by the Big One, and we actually see Los Angeles fall into the sea.
Studio: Oooh, cool! But what about Cusack and his family?
Roland: Eh, they’ll be fine… Anyway, there’s also a scene where the Vatican crumbles and kills everyone praying in St. Peter’s Square…
Studio: Awesome! What else?
Roland: Check this out – a U.S. Aircraft Carrier rides a giant tidal wave, killing everyone in its path before it goes crashing into the White House!
Studio: Wait, didn’t we already see the White House destroyed in “Independence Day?”
Roland: Yes, but not like this…
Studio: Roland, you are brilliant! Simply brilliant!
Roland: We also see the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio come toppling down the mountain!
Studio: You’re really throwing in everything, but this sounds like a long movie…
Roland: No worries, I have it trimmed down to 2 hours and 38 minutes.
Studio: Well, I’m sure people will have so much fun watching all this death and destruction that they won’t worry about the running time.
Roland: That’s what I was thinking too.
Studio: Roland, that’s why we love working with you! What if the movie does really well? Does it leave the door open for a sequel?
Roland: Well, there’s always room for a sequel!
Studio: You are an absolute genius!
Roland: Well, I gotta run – after all, I gotta spectacle to make! See you at the premiere!
Obviously, this meeting never took place – or maybe it did? What matters is that “2012” is a preposterous, overlong mess that’s filled with cheesy dialogue and cliche-ridden characters. It’s by far the worst of Roland Emmerich’s disaster flicks, so here’s hoping that he stops making them.
Verdict: SKIP IT!