Total disaster

You can tell there's an earthquake happening because The Rock is running <i>sideways</i>.

You can tell there's an earthquake happening because The Rock is running sideways.

Rated 2.0

If you love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and you think California sucks balls from top to bottom, you’re going to love San Andreas.

In this movie, you not only get two hours of The Rock’s admittedly winning smile, you get to see Los Angeles and San Francisco smacked down with a fury matched only by The Rock in the ring during his fake wrestling heyday.

Seriously, if you hate the San Francisco Giants, the Hollywood sign and that white triangle skyscraper thingy in San Francisco, this movie is total porn for you. The movie contains plenty of glorious visual mayhem involving earthquakes, tsunamis and Johnson’s totally out-of-control upper body art.

Sadly, it also contains something even more devastating than an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault, that being dialogue so vapid and shitty it crushes you and the film like The Rock’s enormous meaty hand squishing a beer can.

Johnson plays rescue pilot Ray, a gutsy and virtuous man on the job who, nevertheless, can’t keep things together on the home front. He gets divorce papers from wife Emma (Carla Gugino) on the day he’s supposed to take his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) on a trip. Before he can pout and dwell on things too long, the earth starts shaking.

The first quake hits Hoover Dam, and director Brad Peyton has no sentimentality for treasured landmarks. The dam is history, and just happens to have world-renowned scientist Lawrence (Paul Giamatti) standing next to it when it goes. Lawrence heads back to his lab, where he sets out to warn the world of impending, bigger quakes via the worst dialogue of Giamatti’s career, and this guy was in Lady in the Water.

Turns out, these are the big ones, with catastrophic quakes starting in Los Angeles and leading up to San Francisco. Johnson commandeers a helicopter and sets out to rescue the wife in L.A. and then his daughter in the Bay Area because, you know, millions of people are dying, but he just has this little inkling that he can still work things out with the wife and kid.

Now, let me get something straight. I don’t go to a movie like this expecting dialogue comparable to the latest Paul Thomas Anderson movie. I know films like this are meant to kill a few brain cells, and I’m willing to sacrifice a few to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson race a boat straight up a tsunami’s ass.

It’s when the dialogue becomes so bad that it makes a Michael Bay film sound like dialogue from the latest Paul Thomas Anderson movie that I cry uncle. Or, I just cry in general. Lost film opportunities hurt me so.

The special effects in San Andreas are good enough to keep you fighting through the movie, even when it devolves into the worst of soap operas. Personally, I was on the fence until the final scene, where Ray and his family are surveying a completely annihilated San Francisco. They are rather happy and smiley for people who have just witnessed the death of millions, but I suppose we can forgive that because, I have to admit, it had moments of sheer awesomeness.

Then, a huge flag unfurls on the wreckage of the Golden Gate Bridge. Let me make this clear, given that the worst earthquake in recorded history had just ended mere minutes ago, procuring a flag of this magnitude, securing it on a very unstable structure, and getting it to unfurl just so would be virtually impossible.

The Rock’s final line of dialogue did me in. It was just one too many lame lines of dialogue on the Jenga tower. As disaster movies go, San Andreas certainly provides plenty of visual carnage. Trouble is, one usually has to listen to a movie while watching it, and when the words sneak past your ears and up to the brain, bad faces and disgruntled throat sounds ensue.