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Tower Heist (2011)

DVD Cover (Universal)
Director:
Brett Ratner Brett Ratner
Starring:
Ben Stiller Ben Stiller
Eddie Murphy Eddie Murphy
Casey Affleck Casey Affleck
Alan Alda Alan Alda
Matthew Broderick Matthew Broderick

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Caper, Comedy, Crime Comedy
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 09, 2011
Here is a film that not only condones vigilante justice but also teaches the ever-so important lesson that some people deserve their money more than others. Brilliant lessons from the not-so-brilliant "Tower Heist".

Let's get the plot out of the way: Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is a crook and is getting indicted on a Ponzi scheme. As part of this fraud, he took the pensions from the employees of The Tower, the most prestigious apartment building in all of New York City, managed by Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller). After an encounter between Alda, Stiller and a car that once belonged to Steve McQueen, Josh and two of his friends (Casey Affleck & Michael Pena) are fired and decide to do whatever it takes to get even with Shaw. They enlist the assistance of a former broker, Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and a street-wise thief, Slide (Eddie Murphy) in an effort to break into Shaw's penthouse apartment and steal the $20 million he supposedly has tucked away somewhere inside. This scheme is the 'tower heist' mentioned in the title of the film and this is the action that drives the entirety of this motion picture.

The first problem is the first act of the film - all of the scenes leading up to the point where Stiller and his cronies cause some damage to Mr. Shaw's property - everything up to that point is rather boring. Not a lot happens. I know they are attempting to set the stage for what's to come but it takes far too long. In fact, they spend so much time with the opening of the film that they have to rush the ending and it feels choppy and too quick. So much happens in the last 15-minutes of the film that it seems like it just couldn't be happening in that period of time. And we won't discuss the logic of why a man would wall up a safe in his apartment with nothing in it. Or the logic of why the Eddie Murphy character would try to bamboozle his cohorts knowing he would easily be found out. Or the logic of how an apartment that is supposed to have 'the most advanced security in the world' can evidently be foiled by stickers and flipping a single switch. I've seen better security at a Motel 6 than at this place.

But here is my real problem (spoiler alert): the employees of The Tower were not the only people defrauded by the Alan Alda character. In fact, the Tea Leoni character (yes, Tea Leoni is in this film and she plays an FBI agent) even mentions that the employees of The Tower were his smallest investments. So what about the other people? They manage to steal the $20+ million and they spread it out to the employees of The Tower - millions going to individual people - in some cases, 100-times what they would have been entitled to in their pensions. What about the other poor people who were defrauded and probably worse than anyone in this film? Why don't they get a share? The actions of these people seem rather selfish in the grand scheme of things and why do these people deserve millions of dollars for, essentially, doing their jobs? Why not just give them what they're owed and then use the rest to try and help all of the other people who were defrauded? That's America for you, I guess.

The highlights of this film, performance wise, were Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick. Murphy has not been this funny and this manic in a long time and he once again shows us why few people are funnier than Eddie Murphy when he's on. Broderick proves quite a comedic force himself in a well-written role that seems to suit him perfectly. He and Murphy also seem to have the most fun with their roles. Stiller doesn't get a whole lot to do, nor does Casey Affleck. Alan Alda is nice and mean in his role as the film's villain, but he really doesn't seem like the only villain by the end of the film and we wonder why getting even with him would require seemingly good people to stoop to his level? Everyone else is pretty disposable in the film because they are given nothing to do. Blame director Brett Ratner for not knowing what to do with so many good people.

I am still digesting this film. I didn't really like it but I am determining the degree of my dislike. Murphy and Broderick were the only actors who made me laugh. The direction was uneven and the editing aloof. Part of the script worked and the other did not. I guess people will be entertained enough by the film and it's probably good popcorn movie material but I didn't like the message it sent or how it sent it. I didn't like the idea that some people's interests are more important than others when they don't deserve to be. The character Lester sums up the film nicely - he's the epitome of the American dream, worked hard all his life, saved his money and now wants to retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor. The other characters seem content with stealing a bunch of money. I guess they just have different ideas about the American Dream. "Tower Heist" comes in at 6/10.
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