Normally I give films a full review, but this week I'm going to try something a little different.
Two, quick, mini-reviews in one post.
This week I saw THE HEAT and WHITE HOUSE DOWN.
Both are fun, summer popcorn flicks that made me laugh.
In an age when movies often try to do too much, these films hit their marks and kept the audience entertained. They both have instantly recognizable plots, but had characters that were able to be funny and keep the action moving. Here are some quick thoughts on each:
Melissa McCarthy is straight up hilarious.
She is an unpredictable, fast and physical comedian that we rarely see any more.
Throw in the great Sandra Bullock and about a hundred F-bombs and you've got one the best buddy-cop films of recent memory.
McCarthy is 'Mullins' and Bullock is 'Ashburn'. One is a wiley, Boston detective and the other is a stuck-up FBI agent. I'm sure you can guess who is who. The plot is centered around them going after some type of mysterious, murderous, drug-lord, but none of that is really important. The film is purely a showcase for the extreme comedic talents of both McCarthy and Bullock and they certainly deliver.
The movie is directed by Paul Feig, who also directed BRIDESMAIDS.
That film launched McCarthy's film career and now THE HEAT will shoot her even higher.
She turns in a great performance and really carries a film that is relying on her charms.
I don't know if THE HEAT is a film that will be quoted forever, but it will make you laugh for a few hours. The jokes come fast and often. The audience was laughing so much that sometimes you miss the little "after shocks" that improv comedy does so well.
You can bet that when this DVD comes out there will be dozens of alternate takes.
McCarthy and Bullock are riffing most of the time and it works well.
It was nice to see physical comedy a la the Jim Carrey/Chris Farley fare of past.
McCarthy does faces and prat falls and runs and climbs and fights, all while running one of the foulest mouths we have seen in a while. It's all great to watch and so it's 4 out of 5 for THE HEAT.
WHITE HOUSE DOWN
This film is not DIE HARD and it is not supposed to be DIE HARD.
I've been reading a lot of chatter with people blasting WHITE HOUSE DOWN with the criticism that this film doesn't live up to the aforementioned, all-time classic. What people are misunderstanding is that DIE HARD is a serious action movie with some funny moments sprinkled in. WHITE HOUSE DOWN is much more the over-the-top and tongue in cheek. It's a PG-13 romp where the ending is never in doubt, but at least tries a few clever twists along the way.
That's director Roland Emmerich's style: he might be destroying the country, but you're going to get a few one liners while it's happening. This film is much more reminiscent of LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. It's a simple story where you're expected to know the players before you meet them and just go with everything that's happening. If the White House could be taken over this easily, it would happen every other day.
Channing Tatum plays personal body guard, John Cale. Cale hopes to move up the ranks and join the Secret Service, partially because he needs the money, but also to impress his estranged, politically-obsessed eleven (twelve?) year old daughter. Like I said, just go with it. So Cale takes his daughter to the White House for his job interview and that's when, you guessed it, all hell breaks loose. We watch while Cale tries to save both the President (Jamie Foxx) and his daughter from the bad guys.
Of course you are very familiar with this formula, but it's better than average because Tatum and Foxx both have some good jokes. Their banter and the archetype bad guys tell you that this movie is self-referential, not serious. Emmerich knows you've seen this all before, but he's gotten you here to take the ride again, so why not have some fun. WHITE HOUSE DOWN may not be a classic, but if you like your summer movies popcorny, it will do the trick: 3.5 out of 5.
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