Softball-size chunks of ice rain down on Tokyo, as if the ice dispenser on a giant refrigerator in the sky had gone haywire. Tornadoes rip up Los Angeles. A gargantuan wave engulfs Manhattan. Soon the entire northern half of the earth is imperiled by a new Ice Age, which is just what climatologist Jack Hall (Quaid) had warned could happen if global warming got out of hand.
A lame environmental thriller, The Day After Tomorrow neither improves upon nor stretches the disaster-movie formula. To generate suspense, it sends Hall on a perilous trip from Washington, D.C., to Manhattan to rescue his stranded 17-year-old son (Gyllenhaal). This gives Quaid a chance to bark out such unintentional howlers as "Unpack the snowshoes. We're walking from here." For pizzazz, Day relies on destroying beloved landmarks such as the Hollywood sign and the Empire State Building, a trick director-cowriter Roland Emmerich used before (and much more effectively) in 1996's Independence Day. The special effects here are indisputably cool, but it's all too ice and easy.(PG-13)