Today: February 28, 2024
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Tower Heist

Tower Heist is timely. With the disparity of wealth giving rise to the Occupy Wall Street movement, which itself has spread around the world, a comedy about the little man getting even with the big, bad guy that stole all their money is sure to strike a chord.

Tower Heist is
timely. With the disparity of wealth giving rise to the Occupy Wall Street
movement, which itself has spread around the world, a comedy about the little
man getting even with the big, bad guy that stole all their money is sure to
strike a chord.

Ben Stiller leads an
ensemble cast as Josh Kovacs, a mild mannered manager of a prestigious New York
City apartment building. When Alan Alda’s
tower owner Arthur Shaw is revealed to have swindled his and every other
employee’s pension fund away and then lost it all, they decide to get even and
hatch a plan to rob him of his last, hidden fortune concealed somewhere within
his penthouse palace.

When said
ensemble cast features the likes of Matthew
Broderick
, Casey Affleck and Tea Leoni, not to mention a back-on-form
Eddie Murphy (stripped of any kids
comedy buffoonery or fat suits), you’d be expecting some fiery, smart-mouthed
goings on and this is really where Tower
Heist excels.

Broderick is
superb as a down-on-his-luck, former high-flying Wall Street exec and tower
resident who has lost his money, his family, and self-respect and who sees no
other option that to continue his downward spiral with a turn towards a life of
crime. Middle class and ill-prepared, his defiance is understandable, his
anguish palpable.

Affleck too
demonstrates some inspired comedic timing as the bellhop with good intentions,
and Leoni, as the FBI agent leading the case against Shaw, is smart and sassy,
not to mention scene-stealing with a hilarious drunk routine. Stiller is on
fine form too, doling out his angry, little man shtick – albeit this time with
understandable reason – but the real star is Murphy. As the criminal who lives
down the street from Josh that the rag-tag team cajole into helping pull off
their plan, Murphy’s performance is a timely reminder of the 48
Hours
, motor-mouthed bravado that made him a star in the first
place, and he is the real draw here. Bolstered by some fine interplay between
the cast, and some zingy, snappy dialogue too, the stage is set for a daring
blue-collar, caper comedy to rival the suave-suited Ocean’s gang. Only the
caper itself is something of a misstep.

The build-up
scores big but the heist itself is a damp squib that misses the target and goes
home somewhat empty-handed. Overlong, plagued by logical incoherence and with
most of the comic interplay relegated to the backseat while exposition takes
the driver’s role, when the gang set foot in the tower intent on taking what’s
theirs, the smarts go right out the window. Shorn of any discernible action and
with the element of surprise perplexingly left to one side, for the most part,
the climax is lacking the emotional payoff their morally-defensible crusade
requires.

Despite this
though, with Ratner in charge, the
energy levels never drop, and everything is bold, brash and loud enough to
maintain focus. It won’t be troubling Oscar or classic comedy lists. It won’t
persuade Ratner-detractors to change their mind about the populist-and-proud
filmmaker. And it’s not nearly as clever as Ocean’s Vegas job over Andy Garcia. But it is an entertaining
movie. Stiller bronze rather than Stiller gold, but Ratner through and through.

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