Yes We Can!

Sure, Oscar season is incredibly enjoyable, and I like discovering the deep, emotionally complex films that awards season puts on my radar. But once that circus settles down, it's also nice to refresh the brain with a bit of silly fun. Fortunately for my dumb brain, 2013's White House Down was the next thing on my Netflix queue. The plot... Hahaha! Who cares?

All right, fine. Channing Tatum wants to be a Secret Service agent to impress his disaffected-yet-politically-interested daughter. The two of them go to the White House for his interview, conducted by a high school acquaintance of his (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Though they're excited to bump into the President (Jamie Foxx, playing an Obama knockoff to the hilt), the interview doesn't go well. It is at this moment that the head of Secret Service (James Woods) stages a coup, along with some generic terrorists. Tatum and Foxx fight back a la Die Hard, the kid is somewhat obnoxiously precocious, puns and other tortured wordplay are slung around with wild abandon, there's a final twist... You know the drill.

I sound dismissive, but the paint-by-numbers nature of the plot isn't a bad thing in this case. I wasn't looking to have my preconceptions about the nature of the human condition challenged. I wasn't looking to be educated on the intricacies of peace treaties in the Middle East. I wanted to spend a couple hours watching a goofy action flick that wasn't overtly stupid, and that's what I got. Likewise, I don't want to do cartwheels over it, because even for a movie that knowingly follows a rigid screenwriting guide to action movies, some sections were pretty rote.

Still, the filmmakers knew exactly what kind of movie they were making, and have a good sense of humor about it. The actors are genial, and just on the right side of hammy. Will this movie inspire controversial think-pieces in the film criticism community? No. But it would be one hell of a flick to live-tweet, and was a nice batch of the kind of dumb fun we Americans excel at. USA! USA!

White House Down: B


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