The town has a sexy mayor (Linda Hamilton), a single mom who runs a coffee shop and a town and therefore doesn't have time for a personal life. She makes time, though, when a hunky geologist, played by Pierce Brosnan, arrives in Dante's Peak to examine the volcano.
``A man who stares at rocks must have a lot on his mind,'' she says. The geologist concludes, quite sensibly, that he needn't waste any of his good pickup lines, so he hits her with:
``I've been to Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines . . . wherever there's a volcano with an attitude.''
Like the one near Dante's Peak, which is starting to emit sulfur, dead squirrels (they fall out of the trees) and telltale tremors.
Politicians try to persuade the crusading geologist that the tremors are harmless seismological activity.
``Those aren't tectonic,'' he retorts. ``Those are magmatic!''
In other words, the mountain shows every sign of spewing forth about $30 million worth of special effects.
And like most effects movies, ``Dante's Peak'' doesn't waste a penny on dialogue, acting and screenwriting. As a result, the viewer will want the volcano to get as many actors as possible. Brosnan himself becomes a popular target when, while piloting a boat across a lake of boiling acid, he advises the passengers to stay calm with a few choruses of ``Row, Row, Row Your Boat.''
No cliche is left unemployed. The child crying amid the chaos is one of many hired away from ``Jaws.'' We see the grunge troupe of scientists from ``Twister,'' now working the volcano detail, and of course many townspeople are killed so that the family dog may live.
Early on, one of the doomed residents turns to Brosnan and asks the million-dollar question:
``Is it going to blow?''
And so is the volcano.
DANTE'S PEAK * 1/2 Produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Joseph M. Singer, directed by Roger Donaldson, music by John Frizzell and James Newton Howard, written by Leslie Bohem, distributed by Universal Pictures.
Running Time: 107 minutes
Harry Dalton - Pierce Brosnan
Rachel Wando - Linda Hamilton
Lauren Wando - Jamie Renee Smith
Graham Wando - Jeremy Foley
Ruth - Elizabeth Hoffman
Paul Dreyfus - Charles Hallahan
Parents Guide: PG-13
Showing at: Area theaters