Movie Review: “Tower Heist”
By Marcus Flewellen
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Casey Afflek, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Pena, Zeljko Ivanek
Written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson
Directed by Brett Ratner
After spending the past decade or so playing misguided fathers and voicing lovable donkeys in dozens of kids movies, Murphy finally gets the chance to cut loose in “Tower Heist”. As always, Murphy greatly elevates the material that he’s given, but READER BE WARNED: don’t let the trailers, posters, and TV commercials fool you; Murphy’s not in this movie as nearly as much as the promos suggest. Which is a shame, because “Tower Heist” is at its best when Murphy is center-stage.
Ben Stiller really isn’t acting here; he’s played this type of role dozens of times before. I’d hate to say that he’s underused here, because he’s in every scene, but unfortunately he’s stuck playing the thankless, mostly unfunny role of Josh Kovacs, the highly-efficient building manager of the Tower. He’s good friends with the Tower’s richest resident, Arthur Shaw (played very well by Alan Alda), who is arrested at the beginning at the film for stealing his clients’ money. Sound familiar? Turns out, Shaw has not only stolen his clients’ money, he’s also stolen the money from the pension plans of each of his employees, including Kovacs, his brother-in-law Charlie (Casey Affleck), Jamaican maid Odessa (Academy-Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe) and lovable doorman Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson), who tries to commit suicide shortly after Shaw’s arrest.
Lester’s near-death inspires Kovacs to steal back the money that Shaw stole. He enlists the help of Charlie, recently fired Wall Street investor Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and “electrical engineer” Enrique (the very funny Michael Pena) to help him plan and execute this difficult heist. The only problem is, these guys have never stolen anything in their entire lives. This leads Kovacs to enlist the help of Slide (Murphy), a professional thief who helps turns the group into hardened criminals. (Not really.)
The screenplay, written by Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven) and Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can), is hit-or-miss. But the cast – especially Murphy and Tea Leoni, who get’s very limited screentime here as a tough-as-nails FBI agent – makes the most out of what they’re given, and they make “Tower Heist” better and funnier than it has any right to be. Is it worth paying over $8 per person plus concessions to see it? Absolutely not. Catch it when it comes out on DVD in a couple of months.
2.5 out of 4 stars.