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Tower Heist

A Comedy film directed by Brett Ratner

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They Just Want Their Money Back

  • Nov 5, 2011
Star Rating:

Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist is a triumph of casting and performance over plot, which is admittedly far-fetched and rather ridiculous. It is, essentially, a cross between a crime caper and a revenge fantasy – and a timely one at that, given the recent Bernie Madoff scandal and the current Wall Street protests, which has left so many people in a state of unrest. Here is a movie intentionally designed to be a crowd pleaser; it’s not an enriching experience, but it provides you with several good laughs, and it ends on an immensely satisfying note. When you leave the theater, you’re more likely to reflect on the humor and the action than on the logistics of the story, or lack thereof. If you do stop and think about them, you will inevitably find that the movie is not physically, dramatically, or rationally possible.
What I savored was the wonderful comedic chemistry between all of the leads, which is not easy to achieve. Apart from a return-to-form for stars Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller (neither having been in a good comedy in years), we see great wit and energy from the likes of Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Peña, Téa Leoni, and many of the smaller supporting players. I grant you it’s an odd bunch of people. Some of them, including Broderick, might even seem like ill-fitting casting choices. But if you give them half a chance, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you see. Watching them perform, I sensed that they were genuinely having fun during the shoot. If they weren’t, well, that only proves what they’re capable of as actors.

The story, as it were, involves the staff of a New York City high-rise discovering that they have fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme concocted by one of the tenants, a wealthy Wall Street businessman named Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). This would include the building’s manager, Josh Kovacs (Stiller), who mistakenly trusted Shaw with not just his pension but also the pensions of the entire staff. Determined to get reparations, Kovacs assembles a team and plots to break into Shaw’s penthouse suite and steal millions in stashed-away money. These include: Slide (Murphy), a petty criminal Kovacs regularly passes on the street; Charlie Gibbs (Affleck), the building’s well-intentioned but bumbling concierge; Mr. Fitzhugh (Broderick), a desperately broke former Wall Street investor; Odessa Montero (Sidibe), a Jamaican maid on the verge of being deported; and Enrique Dev’reaux (Peña), a newly hired bellhop who’s so likeable in large part because he’s says such stupid things.
Breaking into the penthouse will not be so easy. Shaw is under house arrest, and the building is enforced with the world’s best security and surveillance systems. The team must also sidestep the FBI, most notably Agent Claire Denham (Leoni), who has been assigned to Shaw’s case. She and Kovacs will share some interesting if unnecessary scenes together, all of which hint at mild romantic feelings. At least, I think that’s what was going on. It’s also quite possible that Kovacs is trying to distract Denham in an effort to throw her off track. The possibility of a Saturday-night dinner date confuses matters slightly, and perhaps that was the point. I think it would have been better for Ratner to avoid this subplot altogether, since it’s bogged down by its status as an obligatory plot device.

After some close calls and near double crossings – again, obligatory plot devices – all leads to Kovacs and his team trying to smuggle a Ferrari out of Shaw’s apartment on Thanksgiving Day. I will not reveal how and why they do this, or even if they succeed, although I will say that part of this involves the car dangling from a window cable hundreds of feet above the streets, where the Macy’s Parade floats by as scheduled. The best actor in this particular scene in Broderick, who, after doing it so well in The Producers, proves once again that people can be quite funny when they’re in a state of panic.
It cannot be denied that the film gets sillier the further along it goes. But I can’t overlook the fact that the movie gives us exactly what it promises, namely a tower and a heist. And I certainly can’t forget about the performances, which may not be eligible for awards but kept me smiling all throughout (I was especially taken by Peña, who can play dumb with the best of them). It’s amazing that this movie works at all, given the suspension of disbelief required of the audience; what it lacks in plausibility it more than makes up for in casting and performance, which are both integral to the success of any film. I can’t say that I needed to see this movie, but then again, so few movies actually need to be seen. As escapist entertainment, Tower Heist does an adequate job delivering the goods.


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March 10, 2012
I really did not like it. The absurdity of the contrived heist plot was expected, but the thing failed to entertain me as I felt it did not take comic risks, nor did it have a good enough script to be truly funny. Eddie Murphy was, of course, the best he's been in years; but his hilarious performance deserves a better movie, and one that can survive well enough on it's own and without him.
March 11, 2012
I guess I prefer my comedies a little less risky than you do. Some have told me that I possess no sense of humor whatsoever.
November 08, 2011
I really didn't think it worked at all. Eddie Murphy was the only thing remotely funny about the movie in my opinion. I was really hoping for so much more. I felt Tea Leoni had absolutely nothing to do in the movie. And its a shame because she is so very talented and funny usually.
November 13, 2011
You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.
November 13, 2011
Have read some other reviews of this movie. It seems its one of those you either like or hate with little middle ground. Its always fun to read someone's take on a movie when you both see it very differently. It makes for good conversation. I have enjoyed reading your reviews since becoming active here the past couple of weeks.
November 14, 2011
Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy my reviews. I never set out to make waves, although I'm well aware that not everyone is going to agree with my assessment of a film. I'm okay with that, as long as it doesn't devolve into personal attacks.
November 14, 2011
I feel the same way. Love to discuss film and hear different opinions. It would be so boring if we all agreed.
November 06, 2011
Good review- didn't like the film but Eddie Murphy was great. He was the only one that made me laugh.
November 13, 2011
Really? They all made me laugh, especially Michael Pena and Matthew Broderick.
November 13, 2011
well it was definitely better than 'Jack And Jill' which I passionately hated. Thought it was one of the worst films of the year. No, correction = THE WORST FILM of the year. Maybe the century. LOL.
November 14, 2011
You'll have absolutely no argument with me on that point.Jack and Jill is just plain awful.
November 05, 2011
This one....I dunno. Feels a little too simple for me and while I like Murphy and Stiller, I feel that this may be the same old thing. Great review, but I think I'll see ANONYMOUS instead this weekend.
November 05, 2011
The plot has been criticized, and I agree that it's ridiculous. What I liked about it were the characters and the actors playing them. If you see it with that in mind, I think you'll enjoy it.
November 05, 2011
Pass. If it stars Ben Stiller, it can't be all that funny. I'll wait for the DVD.
November 05, 2011
While I appreciate the comment, you can't possibly make that judgment call unless you've actually seen the movie.
November 06, 2011
Sure, I can. I just did. I'll do it again, if you like.

"Pass. If it stars Ben Stiller, it can't be all that funny. I'll wait for the DVD."

Seriously, it STARS Ben Stiller.  It can't be all that funny.  NONE of Ben Stiller's films are all that funny.
November 06, 2011
except maybe Zoolander LOL!!
More Tower Heist reviews
review by . November 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I went to see Tower Heist on Friday.  What a major disappointment.   I am always a little concerned when comedies have great trailers, because usually all of the punch lines are in the trailer and there is not much left for your imagination when you go to see the movie.  Once again the trailer was much better than the movie.   To me the movie just went wrong on so many levels and wasted so much talent.  This movie could have been so much better.  Alan Alda must have …
review by . March 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    I respect that Brett Ratner designed "Tower Heist" as a film made specifically for him and his few loyal fans; those who have enjoyed his various escapist films throughout the years. I'd be lying if I said I didn't admire a few of them; and it's with that reality (and thought) in mind that I watched his newest film. I don't know exactly what I expected; a piece of sheer cinematic entertainment. Bad for the brain-cells; but the kind of movie that's good for just …
review by . November 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Tower Heist' 'Two Jews On Film' Almost Can't Find The Funny In This Comedy Caper (Video)
   By Joan Alperin Schwartz      All I can say is...thank the Movie Gods for Eddie Murphy because he single handedly put the funny in this  so-called comedy entitled, 'Tower Heist', directed by Brett Ratner.        So here's the story in a nut shell...      There's this super sleezy, super rich, Wall Street dude named, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) - No, this film isn't a fantasy.  Sleezy …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie



Director: Brett Ratner
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Release Date: November 4, 2011
Screen Writer: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Imagine Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Relativity Media
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