“Tower Heist” had one of the largest ensemble cast – along with “The Help” – of any 2011. And like “The Help” this story centers around workers, in this case at the biggest apartment building in New York City. This time the help are looking for “payback” by getting their pay back.
Ben Stiller stars as Josh, the manager of The Tower (based on the Trump Tower, which is used for all the exterior scenes). Investment tycoon Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda) owns the penthouse. He’s the richest and most important person who lives in the building.
Shaw is arrested for stealing millions of dollars in a phony investment scam, which included the pensions and retirement savings of all of the employees. Josh comes up with a plan to get their money back. He convinces a few other employees and a downsized Wall Street executive about to be kicked out of the building (played by Matthew Broderick) to join him. And he recruits a professional thief (Eddie Murphy) to show them how to pull off the heist.
Even though the plot gets more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on “Tower Heist” works. It’s both fun and funny, but it’s not over the top. The set-up is realistic and even though some of the scenes are a little far-fetched, you overlook it because you’re having such a good time. Also, it’s great to have Murphy back playing a role that he does best. After years of doing family films, voice-overs for animated movies and even a musical, the smooth-talking, wise cracking, foul-mouthed Slide is just the character audiences want from Murphy. “Tower Heist” is a little dry at the start, but once Murphy hits the screen the film kicks into gear.
Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, Casey Affleck and Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) are also part of the cast and they all do their best to lend believability to the story. There are some holes in the script and occasionally things are a little obvious, but Director Brett Ratner uses authentic shots of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, including celebrity cameos, to keep us amused and distracted from the details of the attempted heist, which is pretty outrageous.
“Tower Heist” is rated PG-13 for adult language (mostly from Murphy) and some adult material. It’s appropriate for teens and up.
On “The Official Kid Critic Report Card“, “Tower Heist” gets a solid B. It was one of the most under-appreciated films of 2011.
I was looking forward to Ratner and Murphy hooking-up again for the Academy Awards. But, of course, that’s not happening. I wouldn’t mind seeing them do another movie project.