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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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White House Down

Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Maggie Gyllenhaal | PG-13 |


By the time Secret Service reject John Cale (Tatum) and President James Sawyer (Foxx) end up in a high- speed chase on the White House lawn, the Commander in Chief aiming a rocket launcher from the passenger window, you know the film’s gone off the rails. The curious thing is that you may not care. As patently ridiculous as this movie is, it’s still solidly entertaining—for a while, anyway.

The year’s second President-in-peril movie starts with Cale taking his precocious daughter Emily (The Dark Knight Rises’s Joey King) along for his job interview for the President’s security detail. He doesn’t get the gig but does get an audition when homegrown terrorists launch their carefully planned offensive. Scores of people die, Emily becomes a hostage, and John and President Sawyer team up to retake the government. And then the movie gets really funny.

It’s deeply jarring to laugh at a film that sends the Capitol dome crashing down onto innocents and a missile into Air Force One, but laugh I did, because Foxx and Tatum are irresistibly (intentionally) amusing in their buddy-terror movie. But that humor also kills the tension as White House chugs past the two-hour mark with ever more exhausting fights and wild action scenes. It’s a ride all right, but at some point you will want off.

I’m So Excited

Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo, Javier Cámara| R |


There must be something in the water. While White House Down mines laughs from terror, I’m So Excited delivers silly fun aboard a doomed jet. The campy, trampy farce from director Pedro Almodóvar follows an aircraft with damaged landing gear and a crew panicked about how to tell the passengers they’ll likely die. Step 1: Drug everyone in coach. Step 2: Mix a bucket of cocktails for first class, then spill secrets and get frisky. Step 3: Watch the crew perform a dazzling Pointer Sisters number. I mean, if the plane’s going down, you might as well party.