updated 06/27/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/28/2013 AT 1:20 PM ET
The Heat is on, according to PEOPLE’s movie critic.
Meanwhile, she’s not sure whether the guilt outweighs the pleasure in Channing Tatum’s White House Down but finds I’m So Excited to be high-flying fun.
There’s already been a fair amount of handwringing in some circles over whether The Heat, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s buddy-cop movie, is truly feminist.
It’s a big-budget female-driven comedy, so that’s a plus for women. But their characters are damaged and unlikable, so that’s supposedly a minus. They’re terrific at their jobs, another win. But their male colleagues don’t respect them, which undercuts their power.
As a loud and proud feminist, here’s my take on it: It’s pretty funny. That’s why you should see it.
Of course, all that other stuff I said is also true. Bullock’s FBI agent Sarah Ashburn is damaged and off-putting. She’s so lonely, in fact, that she repeatedly kidnaps her neighbor’s cat for cuddle visits. (Cat ladies are fine. Pretending to be a cat lady is a cry for help.)
McCarthy’s Boston police detective Shannon Mullins, on the other hand, is a bulldozer, running over everyone from perps to fellow cops before they can run over her. If she wanted to cuddle it would probably be with the rocket launcher in her fridge.
You can practically hear the cackling of their bosses when the women are forced to work together to bring down a major drug trafficker. You also know exactly how that partnership is going to work out, given that The Heat, from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, isn’t trying to reinvent the genre.
What it does very well is give both actresses plenty of opportunities to make us laugh, though McCarthy gets more than her share of the funnier moments. It probably can’t be helped, given what an amazing comedian she is, just as gifted with physical comedy as she is with the wildly profane zingers that shoot from her mouth, hitting their targets with wicked precision.
The Heat also has a few nice supporting roles, including comedian Spoken Reasons, who’s hilarious as the poor thug the ladies drop on a car in the film’s trailer, and Marlon Wayans, reminding me how cute and charming he can be, as a Boston FBI agent Levy.
While Levy might have a thing for Ashburn, the movie never tries to “fix” either woman by giving her a love interest (though Mullins does prove quite the heartbreaker, with a string of one-night stands trying to go for doubles). Instead, the film honors the characters for who they are: complicated, highly capable women who don’t have everything figured out. That’s as feminist as it needs to be.
Skip This – unless you’re looking for a guilty pleasure
White House Down
Talk about conflicted. On one hand, White House Down is a ridiculous, bloated, obvious, overlong, borderline-disrespectful movie about terrorists taking over the White House and trying to bring down the government.
On the other hand, it’s totally fun.
(It’s certainly more entertaining than its cinematic twin, Olympus Has Fallen, anyway.)
Channing Tatum stars as John Cale, a wannabe Secret Service agent who gets an interview to join the president’s security detail, that turns into an audition when terrorists bomb the Captiol and open fire in the West Wing.
John and his precocious daughter, Emily (Joey King), get separated in the chaos, but he gains a new charge: President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx, who’s either doing a fairly decent Jamie Foxx, or a lousy Barack Obama).
For the next two hours, White House careens from one over-the-top action spectacle to the next, as Sawyer and Cale crack jokes while their fellow Americans die around them. Here’s the tricky part: Those jokes are funny, made all the better by Foxx and Tatum’s tight chemistry.
So yes, while the film asks us to be sentimental and patriotic about the destruction of our great institutions, as high-ranking members of the federal government are assassinated (not to mention scores of civilians), it also wants to giggle at Foxx and Tatum’s antics. Reader, I confess to you that I did, and I still feel bad about it.
And check this out
I’m So Excited
The flight attendants on Penénsula flight 2549 to Mexico City have a problem: Their landing gear is damaged and all aboard are likely to die.
Solution: Drug everybody in coach until they’re zonked out of their gourds, mix up a batch of drinks for first class, then start telling tales and getting freaky.
Director Pedro Almodévar’s farce weaves in a bit of Latin American politics, but mainly it’s concerned with having a gay old time (all of the male flight attendants are out and proud, one of them hooking up with the pilot).
Secrets will spill, pants will come off, and yes, the flight attendants will do a fabulous lip-synch routine to the Pointer Sisters, complete with choreography. It’s campy and wild, and like the uneven movie itself, shamelessly entertaining.