Couch Movies: ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ Vs. ‘White House Down’ Edition

Couch Movies is our weekly guide to VOD, OnDemand, Netflix – anything you can watch without getting your fat off the couch, the way God intended.

Aside from a few passing comments throughout the summer, I haven’t been able to fully weigh in on a side-by-side comparison of this year’s action doppelgangers, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. Fortunately, they’re both available on Netflix and VOD, respectively, this week and I can finally watch them both back-to-back and use things like science and the beating heart of a true American to determine which is the better 2013 patriotic action blockbuster.

Both films obviously involve token white heroes thwarting terrorist schemes to take the White House, and because of that, people have been quick to pass them off as Oreo and Hydrox. Because Olympus Has Fallen came first, a lot of people think that White House Down was the ripoff, despite the fact that the latter’s script sold for a hilariously absurd $2 million.

None of that matters, though. This is something that has happened in Hollywood for a long, long time, and it will continue to happen well beyond our final days on this planet. All we can do is endlessly compare them and debate which one is better until you and I hate each other. We’re Americans, that’s what we do.

Oh, and there are some other movies available on Video on Demand and Netflix this week, so we can talk about those, too.

New on VOD and Streaming: White House Down, Olympus Has Fallen, CBGB, Flight, Hellbenders, The English Teacher, Ass Backwards, Cold Turkey, The Motel Life, The Citizen, Assassin’s Tale

Are any of these worth watching? Let’s investigate. But first and foremost…

White House Down (VOD)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Maggie Turtlehaal

The White House is under siege in this action thriller from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich and The Amazing Spider-Man’s writer James Vanderbilt in this Sony Pictures release. Channing Tatum stars.

Should You Watch It? Aside from This is the End, White House Down may have been the funniest movie that I watched in 2013. The action was absurd, the plot absurder, the acting absurderer and the classic signs of a Roland Emmerich movie were the most absurdist of absurderererered absurd. I love this movie, C-Tates or not.

Olympus Has Fallen (Netflix)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis.

Should You Watch It? Olympus Has Fallen wasn’t funny and it didn’t have any of the classic “No way in hell does this guy expect us to buy this bullsh*t” charm that comes with an Emmerich movie, but it was the superior straight-faced action film. Does that mean I like it better?


So that’s solved now, and nobody ever has to talk about it again.


Starring: Alan Rickman, Rupert Grint, Ashley Greene

CBGB looks at New York’s dynamic punk rock scene through the lens of the ground-breaking Lower East Side club started by eccentric Hilly Kristal in 1973 originally as a home for “country, bluegrass and blues” (thus the club’s name) and which showcased cutting-edge bands through its closing in 2006. The Talking Heads, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Blondie, The Dead Boys, Bad Brains, Green Day, Soul Asylum, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Everclear, George Thorogood, The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, The Black Crowes, The Flaming Lips, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The B-52s, The Runaways, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Tool and The Wallflowers are just some of the thousands of bands that played the club over the years.

Should You Watch It? I have been quietly looking forward to this film from a “Please don’t be terrible” standpoint, and the best way that I can describe fear is that it will be like someone who really liked 70s and 80s punk music wrote a screenplay and the studio let the guys from Simple Plan rewrite it. I hope I’m wrong.

Flight (Netflix)

Starring: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Don Cheadle

In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot, who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on that plane?

Should You Watch It? I’ve heard mostly good things about this film – other than it’s a collection of Denzel Washington monologues glues together with supporting characters – but I’m still mostly deathly afraid of flying as it is, so I am still not ever watching this movie. [Vince’s Note: This movie is laughably terrible. I’d suggest watching the first 20 minutes for the awesome nudity and plane crash and then shutting it off before it turns into a 12-step confessional.]

Hellbenders (VOD)

Starring: Clancy Brown, Clifton Collins Jr.

There are demons so terrible that no mortal man of God could successfully drive them back to Hell. The only option is for the exorcist himself to invite possession and then commit suicide, dragging along the demon to damnation – so the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints – or Hellbenders – was formed. A group of elite, highly-trained exorcists, they live in a constant state of debauchery so they will be ready to go to Hell at any moment. When an infernal Norse demon called BLACK SURTR escapes into New York City intent on cracking open the gates of Hell, the Hellbenders must use every ounce of their debauchery to battle the demon and save the planet from eternal damnation!

Should You Watch It? Despite this movie’s terrible, awful, horrible Rotten Tomatoes scores, I’m still looking forward to watching it this weekend on VOD. I really hope I don’t hate it.

The English Teacher (Netflix)

Starring: Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear

On behalf of Cinedigm and Tribeca Film, we are pleased to share the official theatrical trailer for their upcoming film, THE ENGLISH TEACHER. This uplifting comedy tells the story of Linda Sinclair-a forty-year-old unmarried English teacher whose greatest relationships are with her favorite authors and stories. When a disheartened former student moves back into town after failing to make it as a playwright in New York, Linda decides to step out of her comfort zone and mount his play with the help of the high school drama teacher.

Should You Watch It? I’d let Julianne Moore mount my play. I’m sorry, I wouldn’t really. I don’t actually ever talk like that, but I just can’t avoid it sometimes, because I really want you all to think I’m cool.

Ass Backwards (VOD)

Starring: June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson

Kate (June Diane Raphael) and Chloe (Casey Wilson) are two childhood best friends who met when they placed dead last in their hometown beauty pageant. Now they are all grown up and living in New York City, where Chloe works as a “girl in a box” at a nightclub and Kate is a CEO….of her own one-woman egg donor “corporation”. Lost in delusion, they believe they are living large until an invitation to their hometown pageant arrives and their past comes back to haunt them. Join these two loveable losers as they take an ass backwards journey home to reclaim their crown, stopping off at a women’s separatist commune, an amateur strip club competition, and meeting their favorite reality TV star along the way.

Should You Watch It? I’m one of what feels like a very few people who really likes Casey Wilson and finds her both funny and charming. But I also didn’t like Romy and Michele and that’s the vibe I’m getting here. But I’ll give this one a shot, I guess.

Cold Turkey (VOD)

Starring: Peter Bogdanovich, Ashton Holmes, Alicia Witt

Thanksgiving get-together for the eccentric Turner clan goes from bad to worse when estranged daughter Nina (Witt) makes a surprise visit home for the first time in 15 years. Nina clashes with her stepmother Deborah (Hines), and sister, Lindsay (Walger), while half-brother Jacob (Holmes) tries to keep a massive gambling debt a secret. Meanwhile, family patriarch Poppy (Bogdanovich) has his own dramatic news to share. Cold Turkey is a black comedy about how – despite our best efforts – we all eventually turn into our parents.

Should You Watch It? This answers the very important question of “Hey, what happened to Alicia Witt?” I have a theory that Hollywood drugs its young redheads and limits their success potential. I don’t know why yet, but one day I’ll actually think about more than just that one little part.

The Motel Life (VOD)

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Stephen “Take Back Your Freedom with eCigs” Dorff, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson

Based on the popular novel by Willy Vlautin, THE MOTEL LIFE is a searing and profound examination of brotherhood set in the timeless Sierra Nevadan frontier. Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee Flannigan (Stephen Dorff) work odd jobs, drink hard, and drift from motel to motel. Their only escape is through Frank’s fantastic stories and Jerry Lee’s rich illustrations. Everything changes when Jerry Lee is involved in a hit-and-run accident, which forces the brothers across the state to the home of Frank’s old flame, Annie (Dakota Fanning). While the two seem safe from the law, Jerry Lee’s insatiability and all-consuming guilt render their future increasingly uncertain. Like an outlaw country song, this directorial debut from real-life brothers Gabe & Alan Polsky finds beauty and hope in a world of casinos, gun shops, dive bars, and in the simple people who inhabit them. The film features animation by Mike Smith.

Should You Watch It? Do you think that when they started filming, Stephen Dorff walked up to Kris Kristofferson and was like, “Hey remember me? From Blade?” and Kris just grunted at him and walked away? I do.

The Citizen (VOD)

Starring: Khaled Nabawy, Agnes Bruckner, William Atherton

Yearning to leave behind his life of misfortune in the Middle East, Ibrahim Jarrah wins the U.S Green Card Lottery for a chance to become an American citizen. He lands in New York City the day before 9/11 …and the events of the September terrorist attacks forever shape the struggles he faces on his journey to capture the American dream. Inspired by true events, filmmaker Sam Kadi’s feature debut is a gripping tale of courage, love, and perseverance, the qualities of a true CITIZEN.

Should You Watch It? Whoa, it’s a William Atherton sighting! I always loved how in Ghostbusters, Bill Murray says, “Yes, it’s true… this man has no dick” because that was the first time I ever heard someone say dick as an insult when I was a kid, and it was like someone opened the gates of vulgar heaven to me. Also, I once thought bastard was “bass turd.”

Assassin’s Tale (VOD)

Starring: Michael Beach, Anna Silk

A small time thug schemes to sell the name of a mob boss’ illegitimate son to a tabloid reporter, only to learn that the price he’ll pay for his greed will be far greater than any reward he may reap.

Should You Watch It? Never heard of it, but I like assassins, if only because it’s a word so nice that it uses ass twice, but I’m always in for a good movie about ass-kicking, too.