Movie Review of Tower Heist
Remember the days when a movie with Eddie Murphy in it was guaranteed to be hysterical? I know, it's been awhile. Aside from his 'Beverly Hills Cop' days, I feel safe saying that the last thing he was in that made me really laugh out loud was "Shrek"---there are a lot of "Donkey" quotes going on in my house, especially when someone mentions waffles or parfaits. Sadly, that little gem was followed by 'Daddy Day Care', and more disturbingly, 'Norbit', which I still haven't quite forgiven him for. I know he redeemed himself slightly in his 'Dreamgirls' role, but MY dream has been to see him get back to business and make me laugh. Well, welcome back Mr. Murphy---it's nice to see you again.
THE GOOD: The movie 'Tower Heist' is kind of like a modern day Robin Hood, only instead of taking down the Sheriff of Nottingham, it's Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda), the Bernie Madoff-esque character who has managed to line his pockets with his lowly employees pension funds. He surrounds himself with over the top luxury items and enjoys them all from his Penthouse apartment with floor to ceiling windows. And it's Alan Alda, so you'd like to believe that there's been some sort of a mistake and that he's actually a nice guy who's been wrongfully accused---the war cry of all Ponzi schemers. But it becomes increasingly clear that a nice guy he is NOT, and through a series of missteps and fueled by righteous indignation, the General Manager of the luxury apartments, Josh Kovacs (portrayed by Ben Stiller) takes it upon himself to lead a group of less than merry men to render a little vigilante justice to Mr. Shaw. Enlisting the help of Slide (played by Eddie Murphy), a small time criminal that Josh remembers from his childhood, the group set out to set things right for themselves and all the employees at the Towers. The concept of the movie, given the current economic climate and the lack of sympathy most people have for greedy people who take advantage of others so that they can own a Summer home in the Hamptons, is an intriguing one. Yes, we feel absolutely justified rooting for the people breaking the law, because THEIR illegal activity is only going to hurt the greedy piece of work that started the whole mess. And it seems more satisfying than just letting the court system slap their hands. Add to that some fantastic comedy from Murphy, who is allowed to return to his roots a little by using that old school humor that isn't always family friendly. A darker, more subdued version of Axel Foley, if you will. Another surprise of the film is the great one liners being delivered by Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), an ex Wall Street executive who is completely bankrupt and is looking to help out with the heist. His timing and deadpan responses were spot on, and I think it's safe to say that he was a big reason I found the movie as funny as I did.
THE BAD: A couple things worth mentioning here---although Murphy gives one of his better comedic performances in recent memory, he doesn't actually have that large of a role in the movie. He appears about midway through, and pops in from time to time. When he's onscreen, there is some real life in the film... but when he's gone, it lags a little. In fact, the cast is so large, that it felt sometimes like no one was getting their fair share of an opportunity to shine. As previously mentioned, Murphy and Broderick both had some great comedic genius going on, but because they had to share their screen time with others who weren't quite as funny, it seemed like a bit of a waste. The movie would have still worked with less character fillers, and quite possibly would have even raised the laugh factor a little. The other thing I found disappointing was the absurdness of the actual heist itself. I won't spoil anything for you, but it almost felt like the writers worked for MONTHS on the concept of the movie itself, and then 12 hours before filming said to themselves "well, we don't really have any ideas on HOW they're gonna get their money back, and we need SOMETHING... Anybody? Any ideas AT ALL? No? Alright, we'll just punt." And that's where it kind of fell apart for me personally. Had the laughs been a little more constant, I might have been able to overlook the improbability factor, but if I'm not laughing, it gives me too much time to think....and what I was thinking was "Really? REALLY?!"
THE UGLY: Dear Hollywood, there is actually a group of people in the world, however small you believe it to be, that don't find running jokes about the female anatomy all that humorous. We are the same people who stopped laughing hysterically when someone used the word "Boobs" when we were 9. Please attempt to bump up the bar just a tad. I'm not saying I don't enjoy a little immaturity now and then. I've been known to laugh at a lot of things after which someone will say to me "Grow up". But a 3 minute dialogue on childbirth and what it can do to a person's nether region is UN. NECESSARY.
If you can keep your mind open to the fact that this movie is definitely not intended to be based on realistic planning, and is purely for entertainment purposes, it's a safe bet that you'll be amused. And Eddie Murphy doesn't play a fat woman, so there's definitely that.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 ½ trophies.
Tower Heist has a running time of 104 minutes and is rated PG13 for sexual humor and language (No F words---I was pleasantly surprised)
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