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Tower Heist - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Tower Heist
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Well, Tower Heist certainly has good timing going for it: with the Occupy Wall Street movement in full swing, who wouldn't get a kick out of seeing a bunch of service workers rip off the filthy rich guy who defrauded them all out of their pensions? Especially if they are played by the likes of Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck and Matthew Broderick?

This would be the key difference between Tower Heist and Margin Call -- not just that Margin Call, easily one of the best movies of the year, is drama rather than comedy, but it reflected reality. Tower Heist offers something far more attractive: escapism. And wouldn't you know it? Eddie Murphy doesn't even fuck it up! He hasn't been in a watchable live-action comedy in about two decades.

And yes, Tower Heist is watchable! Okay, okay, the real question always comes to this: is it funny? Yeah, kind of. It could have used a lot more laughs, frankly. But it still has its moments, and at least when it's not quite hilarious, it's still entertaining, largely because it somehow manages to avoid most of the cliched pitfalls of mainstream Hollywood movies of this sort. You don't find a lot of heist comedies, and particularly not with a story in this context.

Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, the building manager of The Tower, the high-rise residential tower owned by one Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, perfecting his tendency toward deceptive smarminess), who also lives in the penthouse unit. Just to hammer down how rich the guy is, his rooftop swimming pool features a giant painting of a $100 bill at its bottom (making for a very cool opening shot). Josh and Arthur have that kind of employer-employee friendship that really exists only as long as the professional relationship stays intact. They work extremely well together; they play chess online with each other while at home.

But then Arthur gets arrested, and soon enough it becomes clear that, after Josh asked Arthur to invest the tower's entire staff's pensions, Arthur lost all their money. An FBI agent (an unusually not-annoying Téa Leoni) plants the seed in his head that he must have a "safety net" somewhere in his unit. So, Josh systematically wrangles key staff to help him steal some of that money right back: his brother-in-law (Affleck); a recently unemployed Wall Street fat cat resident (Broderick); and, eventually, a criminal acquaintance who was once his elementary school classmate and is now being tapped as a sort of stealing consultant (Murphy). Eventually they bring in the maid (Gabourey Sidibe, who is nice to see in lighter fare) they learn grew up with a locksmith father and can help with cracking a safe.

Yes, of course, things don't quite go as planned, and we get a couple of expected twists here and there -- but those twists don't necessarily go in the direction you're expecting. In essence, it's the high jinks you've come for, and although Tower Heist never significantly exceeds expectations, neither does it really ever disappoint (except that it could stand to be funnier). In fact, given the type of movie this is, and the fact that there are five people with writing credits -- usually not a good sign -- the script itself is surprisingly well polished, with little in the way of loose ends. The story is solid, well-constructed, and the actors deliver.

That said, Tower Heist is still ultimately pretty forgettable, even without any glaring flaws; it's just pleasant entertainment that will work just as well eventually on cable as it does now in a movie theatre.

tower heist

Overall: B
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