Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy join forces in Brett Ratner‘s new action comedy, Tower Heist. It’s about a heist that takes place at a Tower – Donald Trump’s tower in Manhattan, to be exact. Stiller is the head of a talented ensemble which includes the likes of Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Michael Peña and Gabourey Sidibe. In Tower Heist, Stiller and company are a group of working class heroes who attempt to bring down one of Wall Street’s greats. This is a comedy about getting even, and with the events currently making news (Occupy Wall Street), it couldn’t have come at a better time. But the big deal in this movie isn’t its topic, it’s Mr. Murphy, who come February will be hosting one of the most anticipated televised events. You might be asking yourself if good old Eddie can still tell a joke. Well, let me ask you this, can Shaq still dunk?
- Directed by: Brett Ratner
- Written by: Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson (screenplay), Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Ted Griffin (story)
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, Gabourey Sidibe
- Cinematography by: Dante Spinotti
- Original Music by: Christophe Beck
Tower Heist centers on operations and maintenance workers in a luxury Manhattan high-rise whose pension funds were looted by a Bernie Madoff-style Wall Street crook (Alda). Led by an overworked building manager (Stiller), the workers use their knowledge of the inner workings of the building to rip him off.
- Ben Stiller Plays It Straight: In Tower Heist, Stiller steps down as the funny guy to let Eddie Murphy be Eddie Murphy. It’s a nice move. For the most part, Stiller plays it straight as Josh Kovacs, the manager of The Tower and trustee of Arthur Shaw (Alda). He’s not the one bringing in the big laughs, but he’s the one carrying the movie forward, and that takes a lot.
- Eddie Murphy: Eddie Murphy’s Slide is a fast-talking criminal who gets pulled into this mess by Kovacs, the guy he remembers as “the little seizure boy.” His job is to turn a band of working class stiffs into high-class criminals, and in the process deliver us a comedy. He does both, successfully. Murphy delivers some serious laughs in Tower Heist. Stiller and the rest of the cast compliment Murphy’s heavy jokes and wild facial expressions. This is where Murphy belongs, among other talented and funny actors, not with children and/or talking animals.
- Ensemble: Every single one of these actors carries their own. Michael Peña plays the new guy. He’s clueless about everything, but his innocence works well and he shines. Gabourey Sidibe is a Jamaican maid who’s desperately in search of a husband. She’s also a bad ass with loads of confidence, and that comes across from the get-go. Then there’s Matthew Broderick, an ex-Wall Streeter with nowhere to go and nothing to live for. But he’s perfectly cast as this paranoid goody-two-shoes. He adds more crazy and more laughs to this group of actors. And then there’s Alda. Although he’s not part of the crew, he makes the perfect villain. He’s got charm and wit, and even though he does all these horrible things to such good people, you can’t really hate guy (just hope he goes to prison for a very long time).
- The Script: Tower Heist is more about the characters, and less about the ridiculous heist (see below). On the up side, the script really focuses on fleshing out its characters. We really get to know these characters – their fears, goals, life situations – and in the end we feel for them. When the heist finally goes down, you feel like you do care about what happens to them. The problem with this is (might be) that there’s less time for the action, and this is an action comedy. Also, there are so many stories being told, that by the time we get to the to the Heist moment, the film’s feels like its lost its focus.
- Ridiculous Heist: The heist is one huge, ridiculous, messy stunt . Many plot points are completely left out, and you’ll wonder how they managed to pull off such a sophisticated robbery while a parade was taking place. It’s completely unrealistic… but after a while, you just have to give in and enjoy the ride. This doesn’t have to make sense, and you’ll just have to ignore the many holes in the story. This movie wants to make you laugh, not keep you at the edge of your seat.
This movie works because of its actors. They are the driving force. In regards to the heist, there is a lot that is left out, but the film compensates with its many actors and their stories. Despite the lack of authenticity of the heist, Tower Heist delivers laughs and that’s what really matters. And yes, Eddie Murphy can still tell a darn good joke.
Tower Heist hits theaters November 4.