WHITE HOUSE DOWN Cast: Channing Tatum (John Cale), Jamie Foxx (President Sawyer), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Finnerty), Jason Clarke (Stenz), James Woods (Walker), Richard Jenkins (Raphelson), Joey King (Emily Cale) Directed by: Roland Emmerich Rated: PG-13 Sony Pictures
I figured out pretty quickly how great this movie experience was going to be and it started the second I decided to question the price of my ticket (it seemed a few bucks higher than usual). I confidently uttered to the guy behind the counter as I looked at the digital price board, then at my ticket, and finally at my phone for the correct time: “Hey… isn’t this supposed to be the matinee price?” I was ripe with evidence for a 10 a.m. AMC price battle. But Counter Guy was ready for me – he had that gleam those movie nerds get when they are super excited to share some precious movie nerd information with a movie-going civilian. He told me I was lucky, for I would be seeing the film in… ETX! “Okay… E…T… what? Do I really need that? Is it worth the extra few bucks?” He calmly leaned in and said, “Trust me, if you don’t see White House Down in ETX…you’ll regret it.” (I gave a quick “I doubt that” glance he wisely chose to ignore.) “It’s the enhanced theater experience and totally worth it,” he proclaimed.
The situation made me chuckle and I wasn’t in the mood to haggle anymore. Besides, I was about to miss the previews, not to mention I’d have to wait another 30 minutes to see the non-ETX version. So I was in, and Counter Guy seemed pleased I backed off so quickly. White House Down in ETX… recommended by Brian… and after all that, I’ve got to say, I enjoyed every bit of my enhanced theater experience.
White House Down may be down (ranked #6 this week)… but don’t count it out. This film is downright fun and exactly what I expected it to be – loud, funny and non-sensically entertaining, but in a good way. It’s a summer formula blast-and-laugh movie. Even though it didn’t blow the competition out of the water, if you are willing to go with it and have fun, it certainly delivers. I readily admit that the premise is sort of nuts. Divorced, ex-soldier, capital cop, John Cale (Channing Tatum), scores a Washington favor and gets his politically-obsessed daughter, Emily Cale (Joey King), a trip to accompany him to the White House while he interviews for his dream job of working Secret Service detail for the President (Jamie Foxx). Okay… so maybe that makes sense.
But then he randomly discovers that an old friend (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is doing the interviewing. Okay, I’ll drink the Kool-Aid and buy that coincidence… but where it gets just straight-up preposterous is when Emily decides (after her Dad has lied to her about his chances of really getting the job) to take the White House tour and they run into the President who does a quick “shout out” to Emily’s blog followers and oh, guess what, today is the day that bad guys out-smart everyone and take over the White House. The bad guys’ paramilitary is ridiculously armed and seems to outwit everyone on the White House staff. They take out most of the in-house Secret Service and cops so it’s up to John Kale to save POTUS, his daughter and the world. And oh, did I mention World War III might happen and the bad guys also have missiles? And regardless of ALL THAT… I bit. It’s Popcorn Flick 101 and it’s awesome. The whole cast of White House Down gives some surprisingly memorable performances. In fact, the casting for this film is so spot-on, the actors help you forget that what they are saying really shouldn’t make any sense… but they sell it and it works.
This film doesn’t try to be anything that it isn’t, and you know it the minute the leads hit the screen. Tatum is the “Every Guy” every guy thinks he could be and the guy girls want to believe they can get. He’s got that quiet hunk thing going for him. Foxx is meeker than we are used to seeing on screen, but it works… he’s supposed to be POTUS after all (and despite having to play “Presidential,” he still manages to bring some funny). There is something very clever about teaming seasoned Jamie Foxx with the younger Channing Tatum, and the film offers several throwbacks to Gen-X times. There are pagers, Air Jordans and heck, just blowing up the White House (Independence Day anyone? Which, btw, was also directed by Emmerich) fondly recalls the 90s. But even the blockbuster/comic book film generation can appreciate this one… if they give it a shot.
Although I’m grateful to Brian at AMC, I know the non-ETX version would have captured my fancy just fine, because White House Down is surefire summertime fun.