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Doug's Take: 'San Andreas' is tough to believe

Doug Wright has over 40 years of experience in broadcasting. He is the host of "The Doug Wright Show" and "The Movie Show" on KSL Radio.

'San Andreas' (PG-13) — 2 1/2 stars

If you’re looking for motivation to start participating in your neighborhood’s earthquake drills and to finally assemble your 72-hour emergency kit, simply purchase tickets to the new movie “San Andreas.”

Starring Dwayne Johnson as Ray, a helicopter rescue pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department, this story opens with our hero and his crew attempting to save a young woman whose car has careened off a mountain road and is hanging over a narrow precipice. The moment is telling because it underscores Ray’s skills, bravery and determination that will be crucial to the remaining 100-plus minutes as the San Andreas Fault unleashes unprecedented fury.

Filled with every cliché and white-knuckle dilemma known to man, moviegoers are taken on the most improbable ride imaginable — short of introducing dinosaurs and space aliens.

And the cheesiness is off the charts, although I have to admit a few of the bites of sharp cheese are deliciously outrageous. I mean the audience I saw this film with actually laughed — and groaned in several choice moments.

The death of a child has driven a wedge in Ray’s marriage, and he and his wife, Emma, played by Carla Gugino, are in the process of a divorce. Just as California starts shaking itself to pieces, we go along for the ride as Ray fights to save those he loves.

The stack of coincidences and unfathomable luck that leads this near superhero to each family member at their peak of peril is, well, unbelievable. This includes the plight of his beautiful and spunky daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who has teamed up with two brothers from England after she was abandoned by her mother’s wimpy boyfriend. Of course, a romance blossoms with the older brother as the world literally tumbles down around them.

There’s a side story woven into this plot that features Paul Giamatti as a scientist and professor at Cal-Tech who has just developed a methodology to predict earthquakes. It’s actually the most interesting and, dare I say, plausible part of the movie. I wish there had been more of Paul and less of the interminable peril.

Johnson is the only person who could come close to pulling his role off without it becoming totally laughable. He’s got a remarkable on-screen presence. Even with the jaw-dropping incredulity unfolding on the screen, you can’t help but root for this guy.