Review: Tower Heist
Maybe it was all a ploy. Maybe the trailers for Tower Heist were deliberately underwhelming so I’d be pleasantly surprised with the work of old comic geezers like Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. I only wish I saw more of them together since they’re the only way this far-fetched story could have made any sense. I mean, can you imagine Rush Hour without Jackie Chan? Brett Ratner still knows how to cue in the jokes, but his story-telling still needs improvement. At least one thing’s for sure — this isn’t a serious movie so it really doesn’t matter what the plot is about anyway.
Set in the New-York based Trump Tower in Columbus Circle, this is just like any other day. The building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is way too devoted to his job only to find out his number one client, the Bernie Madoff-type financial tyrant Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) just ran off with his company’s pension savings. What happens when service workers lose all their money? For doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson), it means suicide.
Josh randomly believes that Mr. Shaw has a safe full of cash and sets a plan to make things right. Is it just me or does the whole Robin Hood ideal really popular these days, or is it just the fact that we’re in a recession? Now that we have somewhat of a story, it’s time to get Oceans Eleven on this joint and bring out the team of misfits that are crazy enough to go along for the ride. Josh’s ‘skinny Friar Black’ is the miserable concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck) with a baby on the way, an ex-Wall Street guy Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) with nothing left to lose, Enrique Dev’Reaux (Michael Peña) who’s up for anything as long as it doesn’t involve him working at Burger King and Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) because we need someone to talk in a really bad Jamaican accent (why not?).
When the help finally realize they have no idea how to steal (think a floor plan made out of Lego), Josh decides to hire a professional criminal, his neighbor Slide (Eddie Murphy). As the group of idiots learn new tricks from another idiot, we learn some really pertinent information about stealing. “Rule number one: never give your wallet to a thief.” And of course, Josh gets involved with special agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) who is directly responsible for this whole case on Arthur Shaw. Mr. Fitzhugh gets this right on point when he says, “I never saw an episode of Matlock where the criminal banged Matlock.” I loved this little twist — too bad nothing much comes out of it, especially since Claire is totally a guy’s girl and might have even helped with this heist if he only asked (just saying).
When the heist actually does happen, you’re expecting something like the Italian Job where everything goes according to plan and you’re amazed at their smooth criminal grace. But instead it happens the way it would if amateurs were involved — mistakes are made, people switch sides and in a panic we all improvise. It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s slightly witty, but most importantly it’ll make you feel a little better about this whole recession thing we’re so down about these days.