“The Heat” — What’s amazing about the comedic force that is Melissa McCarthy is how she sounds like she’s truly improvising most of the time. And so the best parts of “The Heat,” a riotous though uneven buddy cop movie directed by Paul Feig of “Bridesmaids” fame, is the repartee between McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. But first, let’s note the pop culture glass ceiling that’s happily breaking here — BOTH cops in a buddy cop flick are women! Feig and screenwriter Katie Dippold rely a bit too much on formula, the pacing is uneven, a few scenes over-the-top (and one very yucky). But put dialogue in the hands of Bullock and McCarthy, add in their obvious chemistry, and nothing can go too far wrong. And at times, you’ll be in utter hysterics. Bullock is the straight-laced, inhibited but fiercely ambitious FBI agent; McCarthy is the free-wheeling, profane, messy Boston detective with a heart in just the right place, if you can find it. Watch McCarthy react to the sight of Bullock in Spanx. Or in neatly pressed pajamas. Or the two of them dancing in a bar. Or the women sitting with McCarthy’s relatives, possibly the most dysfunctional family in the history of Boston. Jane Curtin plays Mom; the mere thought of these two together is funny, and we wish she had more screen time. R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence. 117 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
— Jocelyn Noveck, AP National Writer
“White House Down” — Staggeringly implausible, cartoonishly comical, Roland Emmerich’s latest summer spectacle is refreshingly dumb. Refreshing because carefree action absurdity, once the province of the summer cinema, is on the outs. Solemnity — even for caped, flying men in tight-fitting trousers — is in. Emmerich’s film follows Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” released in March, as the second movie this year to imagine an assault on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The two films are very similarly plotted, but this, with Jamie Foxx as president, is notably less serious. It’s most entertaining as a simple, ludicrous buddy movie with Foxx and his rescuer, Channing Tatum’s wannabe Secret Service agent. They flee across the White House grounds, “Die Hard”-style, eluding a gang of assailants led by a bitter turncoat (James Woods). Tatum has reached the level of movie stardom that he can breeze through such a blatantly silly film. Toned and goofy, his charm carries the movie. If Emmerich (“Independence Day”) had pushed the farce further, the overlong romp could have been something special, but the comedy in James Vanderbilt’s screenplay only comes in spurts. Still, there’s an inarguable, senseless pleasure in watching Foxx, as president, kick a terrorist in the face and shout: “Get your hands off my Jordans!” Hail to the chief, indeed. PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image. 137 minutes. Two stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer