The summer box office is in full swing, and this weekend two more strong offerings add to the season's offerings. Although The Heat is the most likely pick for female audiences who see Melissa McCarthy's casting as an extension of Bridesmaids, White House Down has the benefit of Channing Tatum in the leading role. The star appears to do particularly well in red states, and deserves credit for the $100+ million performances of Magic Mike, The Vow, 21 Jump Street and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, where they specifically rewrote part of the sequel to include more of Tatum. Both features earn my "popcorn movie" stamp of approval, although critics have been more discerning, giving White House Down just a 49% positive rating and The Heat a 64% positive rating.
One way to tell a movie is a "silly but satisfying adventure," as encapsulated by FJI's Daniel Eagan? During the climactic moment, you burst out laughing at the ridiculousness, but that doesn't dampen your enjoyment. Jamie Foxx plays a President in peril, and Tatum the hero there to save both the leader and his daughter in White House Down (3,222 theatres). Independence Day director Roland Emmerich includes a good amount of explosions, but there's also a lot of Die Hard-style comedy that keeps the movie in popcorn territory. The action feature may open second to The Heat, but both should clear the $30 million mark. Although a similar movie, Olympus Has Fallen, opened in March, it's unlikely that White House Down's box office will be impacted.
Sandra Bullock is an uptight, socially awkward FBI agent who lightens up when she encounters a rough-and-tumble Boston cop (McCarthy) in The Heat (3,181 theatres). Bridesmaids' Paul Feig directs the buddy -op comedy, which begs the question--has there ever been a female buddy-cop comedy before? Our critic Marsha McCreadie couldn't come up with any examples, noting instead the amateur detective buddy comedy Outrageous Fortune from 1987. There is the 1988 release Feds, which paired together two women in FBI training school, but that's the exception that proves that females in this genre are a a rarity. McCreadie goes on to praise Bullock and McCarthy's excellent timing, and its message about female friendship.
Specialty audiences can check Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's latest, I'm So Excited. The "lively but somewhat rote camp cabaret comedy," according to FJI's Chris Barsanti, centers on flight attendants and passengers coping with a plane's imminent emergency landing. It's a bit of a mashup between Airplane! and Almodóvar's sensibility. Barsanti encapsulates the movie's feel as a "fashion-magazine potboiler, gossipy and brash, whose attention
keeps wandering south of the waistline." Fun and different, it's a nice summery pick for indie-seekers who want to lighten the mood.
On Monday, we'll see if audiences choose Tatum in White House Down or the funny duo of Bullock and McCarthy in The Heat.