White House Down Is Stupid
But critics disagree on whether or not that's a bad thing
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2013 9:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pretty much everyone seems to agree that White House Down, Roland Emmerich's latest disaster thriller starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, is implausible, ridiculous, and kind of dumb. The question is whether or not that's a bad thing, and critics seem to fall pretty distinctly into the "love it" or "hate it" camps (and pretty evenly too—the film's at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing). Here's what they're saying:

  • Hated It: "Oh my god, it made me sick," says Richard Roeper, decrying the movie as "jingoistic," "explosion-riddled" and "pandering" in an "F" review. "Just a few months after the release of Olympus Has Fallen we get the same movie only much, much worse." The cast, he admits, is talented, "and with a bloated running time of 137 minutes, there's room for everyone to embarrass themselves."
  • Loved It: "There's a lot of expertise behind this film," observes Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle, so much so that it "makes the whole enterprise of creating big, silly movies seem like a truly dignified calling." Foxx "steals the show" as President Obama—er, we mean Sawyer—in a performance that doubles as "a barely disguised message" to the real Obama to "unleash the hero within."
  • Hated It: "I've got nothing against a dumb action movie," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone, but "there's dumb and then there's idiotic." This is the latter. "White House Down, rated PG-13 but as crass and cynical as a Michael Bay movie, is a depressing experience." He was particularly annoyed by the way every bad guy in the movie took turns threatening a 10-year-old girl. "There's a word for a film that stoops to child endangerment for cheap thrills: vile."
  • Loved It: "The movie is something like an MSNBC remake of Die Hard mixed with Les Misérables (minus the singing)," observes Andew O'Hehir at Salon. "This piece of midsummer madness is undeniably silly and delusional," yet it feels perfectly of our current moment, a "gristly, undigested glob of American fear, American hope, and semi-justified American paranoia."