Sunday, April 21, 2024

“White House Down” Screens, and Twitter Reacts Unfavorably


Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down” screened on both coasts tonight. It premieres next Tuesday but the damage may have been done. While critics are embargoed from writing about it now, the audience has taken to Twitter in droves. The consensus isn’t very good. One Tweeter called it “hillarible” and may have coined a new word.

One thing that surprised me about “WHD” is that after the initial set up, it plays like a comedy. The audience laughed a lot. Early on, a White House staffer refers to a room in the building as the one we saw in Emmerich’s “Independence Day.” That was a tip off that the tone was changing from dead serious attack on the nation’s capitol to something more like the recent “21 Jump Street.” The movie gets jokier as it goes along.

One thing to watch: 13 year old Joey King is a breakout star from this film. She looks so much like a young Patty Duke, I think they should remake Duke’s famous 1960s series immediately with Joey as twin cousins. No kidding.

I didn’t think Sony was marketing “WHD” as a comedy. But it surely isn’t at all as serious minded as their Oscar nominated drama, “Zero Dark Thirty.”So far the Twitters are calling it “dumb” and “silly.” But there’s obviously a high interest in seeing Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in a movie together. And I am always happy to see James Woods. Michael Murphy, another favorite, plays the Vice President.

Emmerich has made some terrible movies like “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow” and a great one in “Independence Day.” “White House Down” clocks in at two hours and twelve minutes. It cost well beyond $150 million.

PS Tatum plays a cop named John Cale. Is this a tribute to the great musician? And another character is named Ted Hope, which got laughs in the screening. Ted is a popular indie producer.

Here’s the real John Cale:




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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