For much of the morning, “The Heat” was in free fall, and “White House Down” was close behind it, plunging down the tomatometer. But by day’s end, “The Heat” had garnered enough reviews to rise from the low 30s to “fresh” territory — two critics out of three endorsing it.
Maybe it’s people reacting to the “Melissa McCarthy is fat debates” that have raged for months, or maybe my old bottom line maxim, “Funny is funny,” no matter how junky the movie, applies. (It is funny, in a stupidly obvious eye-rolling way. Terrible script, but hard-working stars). But it stands endorsed and set up to do “Identity Thief” numbers at the box office this weekend. Two fun supporting turns — cliches made amusing — veteran character actor Tom Wilson as the police captain frightened of McCarthy, and Spoken Reasons as the Marlon Wayans-ish street punk-perp both Bullock and McCarthy terrorize. Wayans actually turns up in the picture, a wasted opportunity.
“White House Down” is almost a parody of “Die Hard” like terrorist thrillers — WAY over the top. Preachy suggestions that Hard Right Tim McVeigh types and the military industrial complex are powerful enough to take out the whole Secret Service, absurdly comical riffs by the President (Jamie Foxx), a rather bland heroic turn by Channing Tatum, a predictably menacing one by James Woods, a tween in jeopardy, and Richard Jenkins, and Maggie Gyllenhaal in supporting roles. “Independence Day” jokes, from the director of “Independence Day.” Congress gets blown up, which as unpopular as Congress is today, seems like commentary.
It’s only marginally better than “The Heat,” but it got the worse reviews.
“White House Down” probably won’t do the business “The Heat” will this weekend. But you never know.
Also opening — in Orlando, “Fill the Void”, a pretty good drama about ultra-Orthodox Jews and marriage and ritual in Israel.
“Twenty Feet From Stardom,” the very fine doc about rock’s legendary backup singers, also opens in Otown. Go to Fandango.com to get tickets.
“Europa Report,” in limited release, this is sci-fi with perfect production values but limited chills and a tired “found footage” format.
“Redemption,” one of the better, if still generic, Jason Statham actioners of late.
And “Byzantium,” a nasty/sexy vampire thriller starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton, is in limited release.