Tower Heist is unquestionably the oddest culmination of cinema to come along in quite some time. Thankfully, it’s also the funniest.
Directed by Bret Ratner the film stars Ben Stiller, followed by Eddie Murphy (the great comedian who’s been slumming in family films for the past decade), Matthew Broderick (the actor who we all love as Ferris Bueller and hasn’t quite recovered since), Casey Affleck (the brother of Ben Affleck who has an unparalleled raspy voice), and to top it off, Gabourey Sidibe (the actress renowned for her work in Precious).
Oh, there’s also Alan Alda, Michael Pena, and Tea Leoni. Are these the only actors willing to be in the film? Who knows? Regardless, Ratner has concocted his best film since The Family Man in 2000.
Stiller plays Josh Kovacks, the manager of ”The Tower” – a place where the wealthy rent and buy luxurious condos overlooking the New York skyline. It’s a lovely place. That is until Arthur Shaw (Alda), the owner of a penthouse in The Tower, is charged with fraud and theft.
Stuck in a Ponzi scheme – where Shaw has utilized the pensions of all the employees at the estate – Josh, Charlie (Affleck), Enrique (Pena), and Mr. Fitzhugh (Broderick) decide to fight back against the corrupt. Take over the castle! Give the man a run for his money, once and for all.
This isn’t something out of the ordinary in the movies. In these tough economic times, there isn’t a person in an audience who doesn’t think about revenge on their boss from time to time.
However, these hard-working men, though inspired and filled with rage, have absolutely no clue how to steal from someone. This is where Slide, a criminal who’s garnered an infamous reputation, comes into play, wonderfully performed by Eddie Murphy.
The typical “bank movie” events ensue: Slide trains the men for the operation, bonds blossom between the characters, insights into middle-class life are propelled, and the jokes keep on coming.
Tower Heist isn’t the most original film on the block – reminiscent of something like Fun With Dick and Jane and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – but it’s certainly affable entertainment.
Surprisingly, Ratner’s comeback film has a lot going for it. The cast, though juxtaposed with some uncertainty, is quite good here. Murphy and Broderick are on their comedic A-game. Stiller subsequently proves charisma and charm holds enough weight to headline a film. And once again Tea Leoni, as the FBI who’s raucously funny and marginally attracted to Josh, proves she’s an accessible and likable supporting actress – deserving of more work.
On the flipside of the comedy coin, the film is often far too absurd for its own good. I mean, when you have a climax including a car on the side of a building, simultaneously people climbing elevators, and a story desperately succumbing to plot contrivances, it becomes quite frustrating. Tower Heist isn’t set in another time. Though, more often than not, it ought to be.
Still, amid the plethora of bizarre action sequences and gaping structural holes, Tower Heist is a deviously funny film that reminds us that comedy is difficult, but when the stars align, it’s a beautiful thing.
If Mr. Ratner’s latest endeavor is an indicator of anything in American culture, it is that people are always up for revolt against their superiors. And, most importantly, that the 80’s and all its disco, hippy, bad action movie, John Hughes’ heartwarming glory is prime for a comeback.
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