Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Gabourey Sidibe, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Tea Leoni, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Michael Pena, Nina Arianda, Peter Van Wagner, Harry O'Reilly, Robert Downey Sr.
Synopsis: When a group of hard working guys find out they've fallen victim to a wealthy business man's Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content
Don't get mad. Get even.
Out of all the films that I've seen this year, I would have to say that "Tower Heist" is arguably one of the most under rated. Not only does this film feature Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy at their finest, but it also features an array of other great performances as well. Although, I'm sure some people might be disappointed that there's none of Ben Stiller's toilet humor jokes in this movie, but it doesn't need it. No, what we're treated to instead is a classic comedy in ilk of other such greats as "Trading Places." A classic comedy that relies on clever writing, and great performances to make the audience laugh; rather than rely on cheap low brow potty humor that audiences were treated to in such films like "The Change-Up."
As the movie begins, it follows a highly successful manager named Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), who runs a residential apartment building in New York. Like any good hotel manager, Josh maintains a close relationship with all his tenants; especially an eccentric billionaire named Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Unlike the other tenants, Arthur offers Josh a chance to multiply the pension fund by diversifying the hotel's portfolio; which could mean possibly tripling the company's pension theoretically. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, Arthur gets arrested by the FBI for fraud. Although most of the hotel employees would love to ring Arthur's neck, Josh seems level headed enough to feel that this whole issue is nothing more than a misunderstanding, and that things will work themselves out. However, once he learns that the entire pension for the hotel is gone, and when one of his employees tries to kill himself over it, Josh's opinion of Arthur changes for the worst. In a burst of anger, Josh ends up getting himself fired after recklessly taking out some of his frustration on Arthur's personal property. To make matters worse, an FBI agent tells Josh that even if they do end up convicting Arthur, then there's no way they can legally retrieve the pension money that was invested.
With nowhere else to turn, Josh decides to do the only rational thing that he can think of.....which is the rob Arthur's apartment for compensation. Unfortunately, Josh and some of his ex-workers have no experience when it comes to committing crimes, so they turn to a loud mouthed ex-convict named Slide (Eddie Murphy) for help, as they plan to steal over twenty million dollars from Shaw by any means necessary. Along the way, they also enlist the help of Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) for her expertise in cracking safes, as they prepare for possibly the biggest heist either of them have ever dared to pull off before.
From here, the events that transpire play out like an action comedy version of "Ocean's Eleven", where each character involved in the robbery has a specific role that needs to be carried out to the letter for it work. However, loyalties become crossed, and things go haywire, as it forces a few sacrifices to be made to achieve their overall objective. But like any good chess player will tell you, sometimes you have to be willing sacrifice your pawns to win the game. Or as another old saying would go, "Sometimes you have to be willing to lose a few battles, in order to win the war."
Although, I won't say this is the funniest movie that I've seen in a while, but it's certainly one of the best written. Not only does it feature an impressive array of colorful characters, but it also features a surprisingly deep, yet simplistic comical story that'll be sure to delight anyone's funny bone.
For those who may have doubted Ratner, after seeing how poorly "Rush Hour 3" and "X-Men: Last Stand" were made, then fear not. Ratner returns to old form in this movie, as he does an excellent job blending in the comedic and action elements of the film together; almost reminiscent of how well orchestrated his first "Rush Hour" movie was portrayed.
As for the performances, I have to say I was glad to see Eddie Murphy go back to his usual fast talking self, as Eddie is usually at his comedic best when he talks fast while being allowed to say whatever the heck he wants. And, I wouldn't want it any other way, as nobody can play a fast talking wise guy better than Eddie Murphy when he's allowed to cut loose.
As for Gabourey Sidibe, I have to say she's definitely shows a lot of range in this movie. Who ever would've guessed that the depressed overweight girl from "Precious" could ever turn into such a comedic firecracker? Sure, her character starts off as being anything but ordinary in the movie, but the more we see of her, the audience will see that she's definitely more than capable of being in a comedy. In fact, the part where she points a gun at Slide during the heist will literally have audiences bursting at the seams, as you couldn't ask for a funnier premise. During the scene, Slide decides to betray Josh and his friends to take the money for himself, as he arrogantly points a gun at their heads while talking trash. Unfortunately for him, Slide doesn't see Odessa point a gun at him while he's talking, as it leads to quite the comedic scene.
Unfortunately, that's not to say that this film doesn't have it's flaws either. For instance, the love story subplot between Josh and FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) isn't fully fleshed out as one would like, and it often comes off as rushed throughout the movie; sometimes even forced.
Plus, I was a bit disappointed that other actors such as Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda felt under used. Sure, they both had big roles to play in this movie, so there's no doubt about that. However, both these men have been known to be great in comedic roles before (Matthew Broderick in "Election and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and Alan Alda in the "MASH" TV series respectively), yet the film rarely ever calls for these two men to be that funny. It's kind of sad if you ask me. Although to be fair, Matthew Broderick does have a few moments where he's funny in this movie, but most of them are at the expense of being the "butt" of Slide's jokes; which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a part of you tends to crave more considering a movie that features an all star comedic cast would lead one to expect all the actors to be given some moments to shine on their own.
Overall, I think if you want to see a well written comedy that'll not only tickle your funny bone without the need for low brow potty humor, then "Tower Heist" is definitely the film you've waiting for. It not only features a lot of great performances, but it has a well written story as well that meshes the perfect blend of comedy and action. Definitely worth checking out at a rating of two and a half out of four. As I said earlier, this isn't the funniest movie that I've seen, but it's definitely one of the most entertaining by far this year.
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