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Tower Heist (2011): Movie Review

Updated on November 12, 2012
Tower Heist stars Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy as themselves.
Tower Heist stars Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy as themselves. | Source

I went in to Tower Heist wondering why it flopped. It made about $78 million domestically, which wouldn’t be that bad if it hadn’t cost $75 million to make. Ben Stiller makes popular movies. Eddie Murphy made popular movies in the ‘80s. There should have been enough star power there to bring people into the theaters. Was the timing bad? Sometimes movies just don’t strike a chord with people until they make it to DVD or cable. But the subject matter seems particularly apt for its release date. Just over a week after Tower Heist was released, protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement were forced to move from New York’s financial district. You’d think that a few of them would have trickled into theaters to watch a movie about a wealthy one percenter being charged with securities fraud, who stole the pensions of his apartment building’s staff.

Though the movie touches on the issue of the day, there is no nuance here. Alan Alda plays the heavy-handed baddie, an unrepentant rich guy so well-connected with judges that he plans to skate on the charges. Ben Stiller plays the anal-retentive building manager who eventually plots to steal back his and his staff’s pensions, but he doesn’t become the character in any way. This could have easily been a spin-off of any other Ben Stiller movie. Same with Eddie Murphy: he plays Slide, the criminal brought in to advise Stiller on how to steal the money back, but the performance is really nothing but Eddie Murphy yelling and talking fast. Even the secondary characters were forgettable. Casting Casey Affleck did not trick me into thinking I was watching Ocean’s 11. Téa Leoniis pedestrian as an FBI agent whose potential romance with Ben Still goes nowhere. Matthew Broderick looks like he walked right off the set of his recent Honda CR-V commercial, where he plays himself. It’s almost as if Brett Ratner is a terrible director.

If you are looking for a Ben Stiller or Eddie Murphy movie to watch, don’t go for this one. You are better off with Meet the Parents or Beverly Hills Cop. If you’re looking for a heist movie, try Ocean’s 11 or Heat. Steer clear of Tower Heist.

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