This summer there has been tremendous excitement over the films released, as the box office numbers of the past few weeks indicate. But what does one do when faced with a heavy decision such as whether to watch the girl power action film (The Heat) or the buddy action film (White House Down)?
In the first position is the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy mash up of the best female odd couple since 2 Broke Girls worked at a diner on CBS. In director Paul Feig’s first film since Bridesmaids, he taps into the female psyche once again with uptight FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn (played with pinned up calm by Bullock) and sloppy, yet dangerous Detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy). Ashburn and Mullins are working with/against each other to catch a drug dealer named Larkin, who might as well be invisible, because no one knows what he looks like.
A key ingredient of any good movie is a great plot. Katie Dippold, the same woman who’s written episodes of MadTV and Parks and Recreation, and currently is working on a sequel to the film, tries to work in so much character study in The Heat that she forgets to tighten up her plot. By the time the audience arrives at Larkin’s true identity, there’s not enough sinister or natural buildup to bring the audience to actual fear.
Luckily for Dippold, Bullock and McCarthy have good enough chemistry to pull off the story. McCarthy gets another chance to explore her McCarthy-ism. Bullock likewise brings some of her brand of comedy to the screen. Both ladies seemed to be holding back, however. But for what? The sake of the plot? It needed it.
Now that we have put the ladies before the gentlemen, let’s take a look at the men.
In screenwriter James Vanderbilt’s White House Down, a former Marine and current security detail for the speaker of the House, John (played by Channing Tatum), attempts to keep the president of the United States (Jamie Foxx doing a wooden President Obama impression), also known as POTUS, from being killed by terrorists on United States soil.
Vanderbilt’s credits include The Rundown, Zodiac, and The Losers. His White House gets blown up section by section becoming a shell of its former self. Besides naming his POTUS James W. Sawyer — worst fictional president name ever — Vanderbilt’s dialogue and plot also is full of holes. The characters can’t seem to find any truth in the words that are coming out of their mouths, almost appearing to be saying them at gunpoint.
Speaking of gunplay, director Roland Emmerich has this film lousy with guns, big and little. There’s also the action movie requisite of multiple explosions, up to and including blowing up a portion of the White House. It should be mentioned that Emmerich also blew up the White House in Independence Day, and flooded New York in The Day After Tomorrow (a bad title that happened to a good film).
Emmerich obviously is no stranger to making things long held precious go “boom.” But there was so much action that White House Down doesn’t have a chance to catch up to itself. John and President Sawyer spend so much time trying to escape the White House grounds that it almost becomes a bad Benny Hill sketch with the POTUS wielding a rocket. All of the going around in circles became quite tiring.
THE WINNER IS
As for the conundrum of whether the women or the men should earn your hard-earned money at the box office, the easy answer could be seeing Despicable Me 2, instead. But guessing that most of the readers of this article are over the age of 18, that idea won’t work on the more mature readers.
If one of these two entertaining, action-filled, and weakened plot films had to be the lesser of the two evils, money should be placed on one’s own preference.
The Heat offers a good sismance (worst named genre ever) that happily has nothing to do with “getting the guy.” And White House Down offers an adrenaline ride of a buddy film.
The Heat is the wiser choice, as it has Melissa McCarthy and hilarious situational comedy, without the wooden dialogue.
Sisters before misters!