‘White House Down,’ ‘The Heat’ and other new movies, reviewed

In this week’s new movies, the star power of "White House Down" and "The Heat" didn't prevent the films from receiving low ratings, and "Twenty Feet From Stardom" places a spotlight on talented background singers.


As a wannabe Secret Service agent, John Cale (Channing Tatum) leaps into action to protect the president in “White House Down.” (Reiner Bajo)

1/2 “White House Down” (PG-13) “Between all the stuff that goes boom, stars Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum manage to develop genuine comic chemistry as two men thrown into an apocalyptic cataclysm when the U.S. government suffers a viciously violent coup.” – Ann Hornaday

Twenty Feet From Stardom” (PG-13) “They bring sex appeal and, in some cases, a dash of personality to a song. They also bring the hook, because that’s typically when their voices join in. As one commentator notes, whenever you sing along with the radio, you’re probably singing along with the background vocalist." – Michael O'Sullivan

1/2 “The Heat” (R) “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. Too often the sketches go on too long, and the coarse, abrasive tone quickly begins to feel repetitive and off-putting." – Ann Hornaday

1/2 “Unfinished Song” (PG-13) "If Arthur was an angry, one-note Scrooge, it would be impossible to care about his fate. Even with the tiniest of gestures, Stamp never misses an opportunity to show that Arthur is capable of love, which makes him sympathetic even when he’s at his worst (which is a lot)."  – Stephanie Merry

1/2 “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” (Unrated) "You won’t learn any of his secrets by watching him perform them in the film, and believe me, I tried. I was watching it on DVD, so I could hit rewind and pause whenever I wanted. He’s too careful and too good." –  Michael O'Sullivan

1/2 “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” (Unrated) "It could be said that this whole film is from Terence’s perspective, yet we rarely hear his actual voice. He occasionally replaces the narrator, such as when he reads a letter to Namik, but he remains elusive. We know all these bits and pieces about him, but not necessarily enough to feel for him emotionally. Even his long romantic history feels less enlightening than self-indulgent." – Stephanie Merry

1/2 “A Hijacking” (R) “To refuse to call 'A Hijacking' a thriller is not to say it isn’t thrilling, in a dryly cerebral way. Writer-director Tobias Lindholm has a point to make, and he makes it pungently. For Omar and the pirates, whose speech is left un-subtitled, the hostage-taking is simply a business." – Michael O'Sullivan

Copperhead” (PG-13) “The story offers uncommon insights on the endlessly parsed period in history, but its execution sometimes falls short. Both the production quality and the persistent, sentimental soundtrack create a made-for-TV feel." – Stephanie Merry

A Band Called Death” (Unrated) “Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett’s 'A Band Called Death' is illuminating, and sometimes moving, when it recounts the group’s stillborn career. The trio recorded an album in 1975 but was able to release only a limited-edition single." – Mark Jenkins

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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Lavanya Ramanathan · June 28, 2013