Moving Family Tribute
Starring: Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni,
Morgan Freeman, Elijah Wood,
Maximilian Schell, Ron Eldard,
Vanessa Redgrave, & Leelee
Audience: Older children & adults
Runtime: 121 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures &
Director: Mimi Leder
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg, Walter
Parkes & Joan Bradshaw
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck & David
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin & Michael
Address Comments To:
A young TV news reporter named Jenny Lerner, played by Tea Leoni, accidentally finds out about the comet. The President, played by Morgan Freeman, decides to move up the date of the press conference that will tell everything to the nation and the world. Not only is his government planning to blow up the comet, the government also is building a massive underground shelter for surviving families. A lottery will choose which families can go and which cannot. No one questions this decision about the lottery, even though it seems to epitomize the arbitrary, authoritarian nature of the huge nation-state that the atheistic fathers of socialism and fascism have left us.
As America and the rest of the world prepares to meet their doom, DEEP IMPACT shows the reporter, Jenny, dealing with her divorced mother and the father who abandoned his family for a young wife. Jenny is still angry with her father, played by long-time Austrian star Maximilian Schell. She rebuffs his attempts to reconcile with her. Meanwhile, the government lottery has chosen Leo Biederman, the young teenager played by Elijah Wood who unwittingly helped discover the comet, to take his family to the big shelter. His girlfriend’s family has not been chosen, however. With his parents’ consent, he marries the girl, played by Leelee Sobieski, so that both families can go. During the ceremony, the pastor quotes the latter part of 1 Cor. 13 of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul’s famous passage on God’s definition of true love.
Regrettably, a mix-up leaves the girlfriend and her family behind, and Leo must return to save his young bride from a horrifying tidal wave. The movie continues its family theme by including several touching scenes and several references about the astronauts’ families. The astronauts are led by two pilots, played by Ron Eldard and crusty veteran actor Robert Duvall. All this comes to a stunning, heartfelt climax as the effort to stop the comet appears to fail.
DEEP IMPACT is a celebration of the traditional ties that bind families together. It does this despite some brief feminist images of TV reporter Jenny’s female mentor using day care for her child. Jenny’s final scene with her father deserves special mention because of the haunting, unforgettable way in which director Mimi Leder and editor David Rosenbloom shoot and edit it. Leder and Rosenbloom also worked together on Leder’s first film, THE PEACEMAKER. Many viewers who support traditional family values also will like the President’s reference to God answering people’s prayer and the final scenes between the surviving astronauts and their families.
What these viewers won’t like, however, are the overt obscenities and profanities in the movie and a comment by a flippant teenager in a government school assembly for Leo. With obvious delight, the boy says, now that Leo is famous for helping discover the comet, he can expect to get lots and lots of sex. “Famous people always get sex,” the boy tells Leo and the rest of the assembly. At this point, DEEP IMPACT should have quoted a verse from the first half of 1 Cor. 13: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
Thankfully, the movie recovers from these moral problems in its dramatic second half. In the final analysis, the movie is an emotionally and morally compelling disaster flick that pays special tribute to traditional family relationships and heroic self-sacrifice.