Reel Critics: 'White House' can stay down

Director Roland Emmerich is the master of action movies high in calories but low in nutritional value. "Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" are among his previous credits. Great production values and cinematography are utilized only to present a mindless demolition derby of mayhem and wanton destruction.

"White House Down" is no exception to his repetitive formula. It's also a virtual retread plot from March's "Olympus Has Fallen." In both films the White House is taken over by terrorists, and a lone government agent is thrust into the role of superhero savior of the nation.

This time around, Jamie Foxx plays the president. A buffed Channing Tatum is the low-level officer jumping into the fray to rescue America's leader. They both pull off their respective roles with wit and good humor. Joey King is excellent as a brave young girl thrown into the dangerous mix.

But the vast majority of the overlong running time is spent shooting, blowing up, crashing and otherwise destroying people, vehicles and buildings. The end is too silly to merit comment. The rest is all lowbrow killing and carnage with no purpose but to entertain the video-gamers in the audience.


'Heat' is just lukewarm

"The Heat" tries to put a fresh spin on the good cop-bad cop routine with talented stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

Directed by Paul Feig, who so winningly directed McCarthy in "Bridesmaids," the ladies can get down and dirty and take out dirtbags just as well as the boys. But being rude, crude and nasty doesn't always equate with funny.

Bullock plays a smug, condescending FBI agent assigned to wrangle a drug lord and maybe a promotion. Her investigation crosses paths with McCarthy's volatile, crazy-haired Boston detective. It's Felix and Oscar all over again, with sprays of bullets and profanity.

We've seen Bullock play this character before in "Miss Congeniality" and "The Proposal," and no one does tight-lipped insecurity like she does.

McCarthy is like Robin Williams crossed with Don Rickles crossed with Zach Galifianakis — insanely fast, furious and sloppy. Like her calling Bullock's boss, Mexican actor Demian Bichir, "Puss in Boots" — it took me a beat, but then I totally cracked up.

Both actresses are fearless when it comes to sheer physical comedy, especially in a wild, seedy bar segment that sent me into a fit of giggles.

I just wish the story didn't come so dangerously close to making them cartoon characters and following every other buddy cop movie in the book. At least it didn't have them undergo beauty makeovers.

I really wanted to like "The Heat," but some of the jokes just left me cold.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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