If you saw "2012" over the weekend, as I did, you weren't alone. The film took in $65 million over the weekend, making it by far the number one movie in America and more than $200 million globally. It marks a big comeback for Roland Emmerich, the man behind Independence Day, a somewhat similar end of the world thriller, who made the awful and little-remembered "10,000 Years B.C." Trying to discern the temperament of the times from its movies is always a little dicey. For every "Easy Rider," which came out 40 years ago this week and seems so emblematic of the 60s, there's a misleading touchstone like the fact that The Archies, "Sugar, Sugar" was #1 forty years ago this week, too. Still, the age of Obama is apparent in this movie in ways that are obvious and subtle, encouraging and not.
There are some obvious political references to our time, a slap at a Schwarzenegger look-alike who tells the people of California "that the worst is over" just as the state sinks into the sea in the film's most intense sequence of global distruction. And the presence of an empathetic African-American president, played by Danny Glover, seems an obvious allusion to Obama although he's much older and a widower in this story. (Morgan Freeman played a better president in the overlooked asteroid-threatens-planet film "Deep Impact.") Not sure the White House would pick the Hugo Chavez-adoring actor as its first choice.