I never udnerstood the phrase "turn off your brain". I see it on some message boards, comment threads, and during some movie reviews of news websites I follow. I understand what the saying refers to. It means to not take a film too seriously and sometimes certain films are just for pure entertainment value. Even then, I don't think the filmmakers wish for us to turn off our brains. If anything they still want us to read into their work. This phrase seems to be associated the most with action blockbusters and an action film's ability to make us cheer is just as valid to me as how a comedy can make us laugh or a drama can make us cry.
Roland Emmerich's White House Down seems to be the ideal film to attach the phrase "turn off your brain", but you can actually be fully observant and still walk away from the movie feeling a sense of enjoyment.
It's a shame this film didn't meet expectations at the box office in the U.S. Like Pacific Rim, it certainly warrants a wider audience because this is the sort of the film the masses could appreciate. Maybe the gross has something to do with the similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen opening up earlier this year and ironically enough, White House Down was set up before that film went into production. Having seen both, I can say that White House Down suceeds where Olympus Has Fallen does not in the sense that it doesn't take itself seriously. Emmerich seems in on the nature of the movie and like other technical masters such as Michael Bay, he is aware to not pummel the audience with a barrage of imagery, but to instead be clever with his cinematography, editing, sound design, etc. and deliver what is the ideal summer escapist blockbuster.
Visual effects aren't used to overwhelm, but to supplement. The large cast is full of great chemistry between leads Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and a villainous turn by the always great Jason Clarke. The film is fun enough that after looking at his past works, I think this might be my favorite film from Emmerich. One might scoff 'that aint saying much', but in this case I'm more than happy to admit it.