Tower Heist (2011)
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 104 minutes
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
USA Release: 11/4/2011
On DVD (USA): 2/21/2012
OK I know that the premise of “Tower Heist” has been seen at least 100 billion trillion times (ok maybe not that many in a comedic form) ranging from movies like “The Hot Rock” and “A Fish Called Wanda” to more recent movies like “Bad Santa” and “After the Sunset”. But even with that “Tower Heist” still delivers a surprisingly fun time mostly due to some of the cast and quick-witted dialogue.
In “Tower Heist” we get introduced to the grand and lavish apartment complex for the super rich called “The Tower”. Leading the staff of the complex is Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) who is the building manager or basically every tenet in the buildings butler, especially to businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Suddenly on a day like any other Shaw is arrested and charged with embezzlement, as many wonder if he is guilty or not, Josh is forced to explain to his staff that his and their pension is gone because of investment opportunities that he went to Shaw for. Since there is no substantial evidence to fully convict, Shaw is sentenced to house arrest until he is proven guilty or innocent. Meanwhile the doorman of “The Tower” attempts suicide because he not only lost his pension but every single dime he had because of Shaw. With that fact Josh goes to see Shaw and after telling him everything Josh sees Shaw’s lack of remorse which angers him to destroy Shaw’s favorite car thus getting him and a few others fired. After Josh learns from Claire (Téa Leoni) (an FBI agent investigating Shaw) about Shaw’s missing safety net of $20 million, Josh hatches an idea to help his old employees get their money, but first he must get his crook neighbor (Eddie Murphy) to help them.
Now as you can see this could have gone a ton of different ways, and could have easily been watered down and made very predictable, but because it never pretended to be more then the kind of movie we expect it left room for many fun and unexpected surprises. Although I haven’t seen too many of Brett Ratner’s other movies I really enjoyed myself watching this, he kept with the stylish filmmaking that you tend to expect watching a heist movie. Ratner besides doing well with the directing also does a great job of choosing the music that takes us for this ride with it’s sophisticated crime caper feel, however I didn’t like the set up of his opening music as it is kind of clichéd at least to me. As for the story there were many really excellent things going on with from the side story in the beginning and ultimately the heist itself. The idea of what motivates Stiller’s character to plan this heist was really smart and pretty much covered all of the bases for the entire cast having them weave themselves into the story. For the heist itself it too was planed in a very fun way with more smarts then you would think coming from ordinary people who never really think about that sort of thing, but they could have been heavy watchers of crime television shows. Even with all of these well throughout ideas going on, there is an underlining predictability with some of the mishaps that occur but it isn’t the mishaps themselves just the fact that there are many mishaps, but the comedy being uses keeps you away from getting bored or tired. But as we start to get towards the end the movie starts focusing on Stiller and Murphy and unfortunately other characters begin to mysteriously disappear and reappear out of nowhere. Other then those minor flaws, “Tower Heist” is pretty solid story wise, however the same can’t necessarily be said about some of the cast.
For the most part the cast delivered some really funny moments throughout, there are just some problems I had with some of them. Casey Affleck for one just isn’t very good with comedy, I’m not saying his acting was is bad, because I quite enjoyed him in “Gone Baby Gone” and even in “Good Will Hunting” but for some reason in this he just seemed to be struggling to deliver his funnier lines. Surprisingly though Gabourey Sidibe was better then I thought she would be with comedy, although some of her bigger lines and scenes are from the trailer so she didn’t really shine like she was suppose to in the movie. But there was just one flaw in her performance and that was the Jamaican accent she used, while I have heard worst accents she could never really keep it steady and therefore should have been taken out as it just comes across as horrible and is very distracting. As for Matthew Broderick who is someone I normally look to past and present for big laughs is becoming very predictable in the characters he plays. Always seeming to play the same pathetic man who really needs a push and by the end finds his manhood again, in this though I understand his character is suppose to be that way I’m just tired of seeing Broderick play the same role. Téa Leoni does pretty well delivering some great lines but ultimately does go a little overboard kind of like she was in “Fun with Dick and Jane”. But it was interesting to see her tactics of attempting to prove she can lead a FBI team even though she is a woman. One of the bright lights in this is Alan Alda who was really good at playing the “bad guy” he is slick, thinks quickly on his feet and carefree because his is rich and thinks no one will be able to prove anything. He knows he is sitting pretty and so does Alda as he give a great performance as the man your meant to hate. I almost forgot about Michael Peña who is funny in this but was just overall ok, when we do see and hear from him. Now as for our stars, while I enjoyed seeing his return to form, I found Eddie Murphy to be a tad over the top in a few scenes that were in the beginning even though they were still effective. Murphy throughout the rest of the movie was delightfully funny and entertaining I was just worried in the beginning that he was trying to hard to win audiences back, but he thankfully cooled down quickly. As for Ben Stiller I really enjoyed him because of the way he played the whole movie very straight and was never over the top like he sometimes can be. His comedy was very subtle and overall really was a joy to watch. And even though the cast is made up of many funny people they were never very good apart from each other, it was only when they were together that the movie really worked, the few scenes apart on their own kind of sucked.
Overall “Tower Heist” is a movie to look at, it delivers a well thought out heist with some comedy sprinkled in for good measure. While this might not always be completely laugh out loud funny, it does make good use of it’s cast comedic talents. With high points being Stiller, Alda and a opened armed welcome back to Murphy. “Tower Heist” will give you everything your expecting from this type plus so much more.