San Andreas, a new movie about survival during a massive California earthquake, is smarter than your average disaster flick. This movie is a rare hybrid of great actors, a pro-male story line, and amazing special effects.
Actor Dwayne Johnson gives a surprisingly nuanced performance as an almost divorced LA firefighter who must save his estranged wife and daughter from a series of life threatening emergencies. This movie combines the excitement of rescue helicopter scenes with the tenderness of two grieving parents who finally find a way to come back together from the brink of divorce.
The romance between the daughter and an English engineer is an unexpected treat. An annoying younger brother, who tags along for a job interview, ends up playing wing man and getting his older brother a date with a beautiful girl. The older brothers responsibility for the protection of his sibling during a major natural disaster is seen as meaningful and important. Meanwhile, the sister's grief over her young sibling death is both underplayed and realistic.
This movie is an ode to First Responders everywhere. Most of the action scenes focus on how an calm LA Fireman can outwit an earthquake. I was impressed, that this movie highlights the gift of quick male problem-solving skills in all venues, not only life-saving techniques that require pure muscle. For example, the English boyfriend uses his intelligence to create a make-shift jaws of life to save his girl. The scientists at Cal-Tech, one of which is played by Paul Giamatti, shine in terms of their brilliance, bravery, and self-sacrifice.
I don't mean to slight the main purpose of the movie which are the outrageously cool special effects. If your going to splurge on 3 D this summer, buy the special sunglasses for this film. The scene where an unexpected earthquake hits the Hoover Dam is Summer Hollywood Action at its best.
I'm not a disaster movie kind of woman. I did close my eyes a lot during the intense scenes in the film. Yet I'm so happy that I stretched my comfort zone to see this movie with my 65 year old father and my 10 year old son. The Romantic Comedy playing this week is "Aloha" and surprisingly, San Andreas ' pro-family message that "real love is about self-sacrifice" seemed far sweeter.
(I took my mature 10 year old son and he loved it. The disaster scenes are pretty intense. I'd guess Age 15 & Up viewing age for more sensitive kids.)
Date Night Choice: Yes! Practically as good as attending a Papal Mass to reinvigorate your commitment to building a strong marriage and healthy family life. Relationships matter during times of struggle!
Concerns for the Catholic: I counted 2 uses of the Lord's Name and a few cuss words. I tend to give those films a pass when the bad languages happens in a life & death moment and isn't part of the regular dialogue. While imperfect the language is pretty clean for an Action genre.
Immodesty: The opening scene has a girl in a bikini. I also groaned with the modestly dressed heroine took off her shirt to use as a bandage for a hero. (However, my son pointed out that was a positive act of charity!) This movie has absolutely no sex scenes. Avoiding that fact alone makes me want to do double back flips. When the boy and girl kiss for the first time a younger sibling yells "Mom will love her!"
Marriage: Divorce is shown as having a negative impact on the child and non-filing spouse.
All considering this is an extremely pro-family movie made for grown-ups.