At The Movies-White House Down

At best, a way to waste time and get out of the heat

At the Movies

At the Movies |

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Channing Tatum starred in the thus far two episodes of “G.I. Joe.” Both films were very expensive to produce, but managed to be commercially successful. Artistically, they were rubbish with comic book absurdities and a barely coherent story line. Add “White House Down” to the list of Tatum’s shame. 

If you just want to go to the movies on a hot day and see people get shot and things blow up, be my guest. We are lucky that we have six choices on any given day at our own local movie house.

I think Tatum can actually be an actor, but he seems more likely to become a movie star until the public tires of him, as it will. His real forte’ in my mind is romantic roles like “The Vow” and “Dear John.” His romantic leading roles are simpler and less costly to produce and on a dollar-for-dollar basis are more rewarding financially.  I hope his handlers can put him into films that are more worthy of his talents. He can play an action hero, but it is best to be in a good action film, not this one.

The producers spent a staggering $150 million on this movie, which debuted at number four this weekend with a $26 million take. This does not bode well. Director Ronald Emmerich (“The Patriot,” “Independence Day”) knows how to make an exceptional film. I think the producers and the focus group nerds overrode his experience and insight. Why else would a guy seeking a job as a secret service agent show up for his interview with his tie loose around his neck? Perhaps because that image appeals to his young female fans?

Jamie Foxx is the President and leader in distress. He is also ill-used.  Maggie Gyllenhaal does her professional best as a high-level secret service official. James Woods has the best opportunity as the bad guy. It is not a good idea to have a superb actor as the baddie and a limited or poorly directed and scripted actor as the hero. 

And there are childish mistakes in the action sequences. James Vanderbilt is responsible for the script. He has had some great work with “The Amazing Spiderman” and “The Rundown,” but swings and misses here. Vanderbilt is also among the producers. He must be hoping hard that he will get his money back.

I also don’t appreciate that we are in a decades-long struggle with a radical Islamic outfit, but the baddies here are corporate America, semi-literate skin heads and a nut job with a wish to nuke somebody. It’s like making a World War II movie with Canada as the enemy.

This PG-13 time waster lasts a good, long two hours and 17 minutes of air-conditioned entertainment. It scrapes by with a marginal two saw blades. For the real deal, rent “Olympus Has Fallen” from earlier this year. It is just about the same story but a much better movie.

Monsters University

A fun, family movie

Katie Schouten

Teen reviewer

In 2001, Pixar Animation brought us its fourth full-length film, “Monsters Inc.” The movie was charming and fun. And now Disney/Pixar brings us the prequel to this well-loved film: “Monsters University.”

The summer’s big kids’ movie brings us characters that we all know, just before we met them. “Monsters University” tells the story about how Mike and Sully became friends. Both freshmen in college, Mike and Sully find themselves in Scare Class 101. They unfortunately ruin their chances as Scare Majors by flunking the first semester final, but the annual Scare Games give them a new chance.

Mike bargains with the terrifying Dean Hardscrabble that if his team wins, the whole group gets in to the scare program, but if they lose, then he must leave the university. Mike joins a very dorky fraternity, Oozma Kappa, as his team and Sully join in an attempt to get back into the scare program.

“Monsters University” offers no small child running around yelling, “Boo!” but there are still some cute moments, such as a glimpse into Mike as a small child, deciding to become scarier.

The animation was very good, as can be expected from a Pixar film. I was pleased with the same high quality I am used to seeing from them. I was also pleased with the fun humor that is generally associated with Pixar films.

As always, there was a short film before the movie. The subject: umbrellas. The short was fun and enjoyable. It brought in a good atmosphere before the feature started. While lighthearted and cute, I enjoyed how it conveyed a message about being unique. In that sense, it was able to offer something for an older audience while still being fun for the kids.

The best description I can give for “Monsters University” is cute. It does not have the same type of complex plotline as “Monsters Inc.,” and is instead, more predictable. The movie is more enjoyable for a younger audience, but not quite as entertaining as the original Monsters movie for the adults accompanying them.

Overall, I enjoyed “Monsters University.” It is a fun family movie that will keep everyone entertained. Even families who don’t have little kids anymore will still find that they enjoy this new addition to the Pixar movies. “Monsters University” is a great way to beat the heat this summer.

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