2012

Beware 2012, which works the dubious miracle of almost matching Transformers 2 for sheer, cynical, mind-numbing, time-wasting, money-draining,soul-sucking stupidity. We probably are nearing the end of the movie world when it's easy to predict that the biggest turd in the bowl will rise to the top of the box office. Equally depressing is the pass some critics are giving to this 158 minute (you heard me!) slog through every end-of-days cliché in the Hollywood playbook. The fresh angle is the Mayan calendar that allegedly predicts that we will all bite the bullet on Dec. 21st, 2012. The Mayans should sue.

See Peter Travers review 2012 on "At the Movies with Peter Travers"

Where to start apportioning blame? How about director Roland Emmerich, who threatened the world with aliens in Independence Day, global warming in The Day After Tomorrow and now solar fire from the earth's core in 2012. Maybe bad movies will lead to global annihilation next time. We deserve it. The human side of the plot concerns Jackson Curtis (John Cusack), a struggling sci-fi novelist and divorced dad whose wife (Amanda Peet) left him because — yes, daytime drama fans — he loves his work more than her. The only thing that fascinated me about Cusack's character — who moonlights as a chauffeur — is the skinny black tie he wears constantly even while surviving natural disasters in California, Vegas, Yellowstone, D.C., the Vatican, India, Tibet and a big space thingie meant to be a New Age Noah's Ark. Did I mention that Danny Glover plays the President and that he makes dire speeches without prodding from his evil chief of staff (Oliver Platt), who wants only to save only the elite while billions perish?

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Look, I can't mention any more because it reminds me of how bored I was during the movie. In the interest of fairness, I will say that the FX is killer as Cusack and kids make their zigzag escape in a car as Santa Monica crumbles underneath them, and that Woody Harrelson has a high old time of it as a crazed radio DJ whose eyes pop from the conspiracy theories exploding inside his head. But that's it. The rest is the absence of silence. Just the noise and cheeseball pyrotechnics that Hollywood regularly substitutes for intelligence and wit. Welcome to 2009.