June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Could the ludicrous “White House Down” be a Joaquin Phoenix-like hoax?
Channing Tatum gives the lunkhead performance he’s been outrunning for much of his career in Roland Emmerich’s staggeringly bad action thriller.
The movie -- deja vu if you’ve seen the stinker “Olympus Has Fallen” -- costars Jamie Foxx as President James Sawyer, an idealized Obama. He’s cool enough to wear sneakers and bad-ass enough to fire a shoulder missile while riding shotgun during a car chase.
With below-par green-screen effects and cheesy slo-mo flourishes, even the digital, “Independence Day”-style mayhem looks shoddy and unconvincing.
Written by producer James Vanderbilt, “White House Down” has a small band of terrorists -- not Al-Qaeda, as a newscaster helpfully intones when he sees their Caucasian faces -- blowing up the Capitol before storming the White House.
Tatum’s character, a D.C. cop on a job interview for a Secret Service gig (naturally, he brings his estranged 11-year-old daughter along), hides out inside the building, eventually teaming up with Foxx’s prez to take on the homegrown terrorist dream team -- racists, right-wing nut jobs and disgruntled veterans.
Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) are as good as they need to be, though no better, while James Woods, with a Nixon Administration crew cut, spits and sputters as the traitorous insider who opens the White House doors.
That’s no spoiler: Emmerich lays it out in the opening scene. This is a director who doesn’t like surprises.
“White House Down,” from Columbia Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: * (Evans)
At the beginning of “I’m So Excited!” three airline stewards perform their air-safety demonstration with the snap of a drag act in a dream. When, later on, they do a lip-synch routine to the title song, it’s a dream come true.
Pedro Almodovar, that great Spanish comic filmmaker, has relinquished the Hitchcockian control of his recent films. He’s letting his freak flag fly again.
“I’m So Excited” is set on an aircraft that’s preparing - - with drink, drugs and sex -- for an emergency landing. The passengers include a dominatrix, a crooked banker, a hit man, a heartbreaker, a pair of newlyweds and a clairvoyant. The pilot (who’s married) is bonking one of the stewards.
Some of the material falls flat; some of it makes you laugh silently, like late Bunuel, for reasons you could never explain.
And around a third of it, like that insane Pointer Sisters number and a quarrel about sex between the pilot and his co-pilot as they crash-land the plane, is heaven.
Ridiculous, poker-faced, extravagant, filthy and maximally gay, “I’m So Excited!” is less a fully conceived movie than a series of doodles -- the doodles of a genius.
“I’m So Excited!” from Sony Pictures Classics, is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: ***1/2 (Seligman)
After Melissa McCarthy’s huffing, puffing cop in “The Heat” chases a hobbled young black man through Boston alleys, past a fruit stand, she pins the kid to the ground and grabs the nearest weapon.
“Shut up before I feed you watermelon,” she cracks.
McCarthy and Sandra Bullock prove they can make a buddy-cop movie as crummy as any man.
“The Heat,” from “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, is as forgettable as it is formulaic, distinguished only by not being quite as bad as “White House Down.”
Bullock is a prissy New York FBI agent forced to team up with a sloppy, profane Boston cop (McCarthy).
“That’s a no-no!” Bullock’s uptight Sarah Ashburn says when McCarthy’s Shannon Mullins points a gun at a suspect’s genitals during an interrogation.
Though credited to first-time feature writer Katie Dippold, much of “The Heat” feels improvised around a negligible plot (something to do with busting a drug kingpin).
Feig’s direction is barely there, standard-issue for the point-and-shoot style that trains a camera on improvising actors. The outtakes might be hilarious.
“The Heat,” from Twentieth Century Fox, is playing across the U.S. Rating: ** (Evans)
What the Stars Mean: ***** Fantastic **** Excellent *** Good ** So-So * Poor (No stars) Avoid
(Greg Evans and Craig Seligman are critics for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and New York Weekend.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.