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MovieMike's Movie Reviews (83)

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Tower Heist 
No Stolen Oscars Here
2.5/4 stars

After leading some campy offerings such as ‘A Night At The Museum’, ‘Tropic Thunder’, and ‘The Fockers’ series, one would expect that with Ben Stiller, ‘Tower Heist’ would be just more of the same. Surprisingly, though, this film attempts to play it straight and serves the comedy up as only a side dish. Director Brett Ratner (all three ‘Rush Hour’ films) is no stranger to action comedy, and he seems to demonstrate some seasoning and restraint with this effort.

Based around a fictional apartment high-rise in the heart of New York City, the story centers on Stiller’s character, Josh Kovacs, who is the no-nonsense building manager. The building’s star tenant, Arthur Shaw (an excellent performance by Alan Alda who quickly earns the audience’s scorn), is a financial executive who appears to have swindled a number of people out of millions of dollars – including the hotel staff (the should have just used the name Madoff and gotten it over with). Once everyone realizes the damage done, Kovacs decides to try and set things right by attempting to steal the stash of cash Shaw is suspected of hiding.

Kovacs enlists other staff such as his under-achieving brother-in-law (played by Casey Affleck); an evicted tenant (an all-too rare Mathew Broderick appearance); and a petty criminal nicknamed Slide (Eddie Murphy attempting to channel his Reggie Hammond character from ’48 Hours’). Additional characters include Judd Hirsch as Kovac’s boss and Téa Leoni as an FBI agent leading the Shaw investigation. The supporting cast member who almost steals the show has to be Gabourney ‘Gabby’ Sidibe (‘Precious’) as a hotel maid who is both sassy and intimidating.

‘Tower Heist’ starts off well, quickly and efficiently laying out the back-story and introducing all the key players. Seeming to pull its story line from recent headline news, the film plays to realism and keeps the laughs to an incidental level. Things go along well until we get to about the last 15 minutes or so. At this point the movie begins to feel a bit contrived as the script gets tied up in too many of the wrinkles it has introduced. Eddy Murphy’s character seems to vanish; the hotel staff gets repaid in a bizarre manor; and our hero meets an implausible end. As pure entertainment, ‘Tower Heist’ was definitely worth the ticket price, but at an hour and 45 minutes, the team that put this together could have afforded to work out an ending that would have been equal to the rest of the film.
[11/5/2011]


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