June 28th, 2013
04:18 PM ET
Two movies are in theaters this weekend starring pairs of extremely likable actors: Roland Emmerich's action flick "White House Down," with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, and Paul Feig's female buddy cop comedy "The Heat," with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.
There's enough time in the stretch between Friday and Monday to fit them both in, but only one can be crowned as the box office winner come Sunday night.
So far, "White House Down" has pulled ahead of "The Heat," bringing in $1.35 million at the box office on Thursday night. "The Heat" was right behind with $1 million in late night and midnight showings. Entertainment Weekly predicts that "The Heat" will soon carry the lead, bringing in around $44 million for its opening weekend, while "White House Down" is looking at an open of around $36 million.
Critical reaction has been equally divided, with neither movie emerging as the clearly better choice.
"White House Down" is another Roland Emmerich blow-it-all-up special, with Tatum portraying a police officer and wanna-be Secret Service agent who winds up protecting the POTUS (Jamie Foxx) when mercenaries attack the White House.
"Emmerich’s vision of civilization’s collapse is so loony, the scale of the damage he imagines so vast, that his best movies (that is to say his worst) achieve a strange tone of devil-may-care merriment," Slate said in its review. "Even as the story accrues preposterousness, the action moves along crisply, and Tatum and Foxx hit a nice buddy-movie vibe ... In this season of solemnly manly blockbusters, I appreciated the boyish energy of 'White House Down' ..."
"Of all the dumb megabudget 'Die Hard'–like action pictures of the last few years ... this is both the most entertaining and the most inviting of viewers' input," New York magazine said.
But Rolling Stones' Peter Travers wasn't as willing to accept the ludicrous offering, saying in his review that "there's dumb and then there's idiotic. ... 'White House Down,' rated PG-13 but as crass and cynical as a Michael Bay movie, is a depressing experience."
As for "The Heat," it holds true to the standard outline of a buddy cop film, "from combustible conflict through mutual respect and on to eventual friendship," said NPR. "Only it tops pretty much every beat in that familiar plot outline with memorably ludicrous gags."
Variety agrees that "'The Heat' has been engineered to deliver the laughs ... despite coming alarmingly near to botching the procedural elements along the way."
But for the Washington Post, "The Heat" itself is just lukewarm - especially in comparison to the chemistry between its two leading ladies.
"Like Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx in 'White House Down,' Bullock and McCarthy and the chemistry they generate are far more compelling than the movie they’re in," the review said. "Too often the sketches go on too long, and the coarse, abrasive tone quickly begins to feel repetitive and off-putting."
In the end, Box Office Mojo predicts that neither "White House Down" nor "The Heat" is going to be the box office winner this weekend, deferring to the animated - and better reviewed - recent release, "Monster's University."
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