Review: White House Down (A Future Theme Park Ride)

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During President Clinton’s re-election year, director Roland Emmerich sent aliens to blow up the White House on Independence Day. Emmerich is as workmanlike as he is schmaltzy, and when he sets Channing Tatum and daughter Joey King into a benign White House tour, he’s fanning familiar fantasies of historical involvement. The brochures efficiently read: “Be part of History!” To do that, we’re gonna need more quotation marks.

I can hear his papery German accent saying, “Oh those Americans…they think something more than paperwork happens in the White House.” * But in fairness, Emmerich has his finger on something distinctly American—a quivering bravado with potentially bombastic export value. The film reassures us it is Americana (Emmericana?)—its happiest American ending is a job for its hero, and Jamie Foxx reminds us the White House burnt once and was rebuilt. “The nation is stronger than one house” is a great statement for a great "presidential" moment and despite the film’s resemblance to some Anti-American propaganda I’ve seen, it’s determined to show us America will rise from its own ashes—we must. We make so much of it.

The film’s marketing comically encourages you to tweet your favorite one-liners with hastag #WHD, which is a funny way of reminding you this glossy game of hide, seek and go-boom is a plaything from start to finish. Explosions are punctuated with jokes, austere sentiments ring absurd and even the more important plot points make you look around to see if anyone else finds this the least bit funny.

Jamie Foxx is a lovable fake-Obama (Faux-bama?) and Channing Tatum has a body too sculpted to be anything but a man paid to undress—here he’s an aspiring secret serviceman—yet for some things America willingly suspends disbelief. He’s as beautiful, flying from a bomb-blast, as are the flames that lick him as he passes. And isn’t that reason enough to watch it? Isn’t it?

*He didn't really say this but I did really interview him.

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