Actor Albert Brooks has fun imagining a world in the future—though not too far in the future to be wholly implausible.
Crises abound in 2030, ranging from a failed health-care system to massive national debt ($3 trillion dollars just to pay the interest) to a major earthquake that levels Los Angeles. Even seemingly good things have downsides. Dr. Sam Mueller, for example, discovered a cure for cancer, but that led to greater longevity amongst the “olds” (i.e., those over 70), and now the younger generation is resentful that they have to spend considerable sums taking care of the elderly. In fact, there have been numerous terrorist attacks against the olds. Resentment simmers, especially in Max Leonard, a terrorist manqué who winds up hijacking the Sunset, a ship carrying seniors from port to port, an event that electrifies the 100 million members of the AARP. The L.A. earthquake requires such massive infusions of money that the federal government (headed by Matt Bernstein, the first Jewish president) enters into partnership with China, a country that knows how to rebuild fast and efficiently. Shen Li, the leader of this reconstruction effort, becomes so popular that an influential senator (and Shen Li’s father-in-law) works to amend the Constitution to allow Li to become president (after Bernstein’s marriage fails and it’s clear he won’t get another term).
The tone is satiric, something Brooks usually does with a light touch, though occasionally he loses the playfulness and shows too heavy a hand.