Tower Heist


Universal Studios


Rating: PG-13


Reason for the Rating: Language and sexual content.


Plot Summary: The staff of a luxurious condominium building in New York City seeks revenge against a Bernie Madoff-type billionaire who bilked them out of their retirement fund.


PopFam Recommends: Doesn't live up to the hype, but still a fun few hours for teens and their parents.


Tower Heist has a lot going for it, not the least of which is Eddie Murphy playing street con/gangster, Slide in the film. Murphy is a kick as the trash-talking, unpredictable, every-man-for-himself wingman to Ben Stiller's button-downed lead-butler type, Josh Kovacs. These two in a room together is enough of a draw to see this movie. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast--and the belabored, often unfunny plot--don't live up to the wattage of Kovacs and Slide onscreen.


The story here is supposed to be a "ripped from the headlines!" Occupy Wall Street sympathy scene, with Alan Alda as a Bernie Madoff-esque billionaire, Arthur Shaw, who callously depletes the retirement fund of the hardworking 99% who (literally) serve him as staff at his affluent home in New York City. Beaten, but unbowed, Kovacs and pals hatch a ridiculous scheme to steal back a fortune and re-fund their retirement from the heartless and undeserving 1%--aka, Arthur Shaw. The concept appears solid on the surface, but never quite plays out with any depth or honest sympathy, which in turn, makes many of the jokes fall flat.


Alda is just silly in his role, playing smarmy with a leer that's cartoonish and bland. Supporting characters don't do much to help the situation either. Gabourey Sidibe should be remarkable and fun as a dangerous mind/maid, but her ridiculous accent (tell me again why she had to be faux-Jamaican?) and sex-starved persona fall way short of funny. Matthew Broderick as timid rich-guy--who-lost-it-all-too Mr. Fitzhugh is a one-note wonder, which is frustrating because there are brief moments when you can see he could have easily added much more depth--and humor--to his role. The rest of the cast, including Casey Affleck, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsch, and others, are simply forgettable.


STILL...there is Eddie Murphy, and there is Ben Stiller and, honestly, they're pretty fun to watch. Slide seems to get the best lines here, but that's just because Murphy is the best actor on the screen. And Ben Stiller's impotent servant who finds his courage is filled with momentary revelations of joy.


Yes, the overall cast is weak. Yes, the central theft is eye-rollingly implausible and no real attempt is even made to make it more believable (example: can three guys really move a car that weighs a ton or more in and out of an elevator so easily?). Yes, Brett Ratner should have done a better job directing this disjointed spectacle. But I still keep coming back to Murphy and Stiller--and for me, at least, that's enough to make it worth watching.


Parents should be aware that profanities and sex jokes make frequent appearances in this film. If you intend to watch this with your kids you may want to remind them of this little guideline: "Just because you hear it, doesn't mean you have to repeat it."


The Special Edition Blu-ray is packed with extras that include DVD, Digital Copy, two alternate endings (either of which would probably have been better than the one released theatrically), gag reel, audio commentary by the director and writers, Brett Ratner's video diary/making-of experience, and much more.




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