Movie Review: Tower Heist (2011)

The premise of a group of disgruntled hotel employees stealing $ 20 million in cash from a corrupt investor is not immediately reminiscent of running a laugh-out-loud comedy, yet Tower Heist delivers exactly that. A colorful assortment of characters and inspired offbeat dialogue combine with hilarious effect to create a film that carefully develops its themes and then begins to build scene after scene of increasingly clever madness. Ben Stiller opts for a more heterosexual role with his main character and allows his companions to do most of the comic shenanigans. Featuring veteran comedy actors Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick, the most notable twists of Michael Pena, Casey Affleck, and Gabourey Sidibe, Tower Heist has no shortage of stars or laughs.

Devoted Tower Hotel manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) loves his busy job of catering to the building’s demanding clientele. But when Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), the hotel’s penthouse resident and employee pension investor, is exposed as a fraud and placed under house arrest by the FBI, Josh decides to get revenge. In devising a plan to recover $ 20 million from the exorbitant businessman, Kovacs assembles a team of Tower employees that includes janitor Charlie (Casey Affleck), elevator operator Enrique (Michael Pena), and maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), plus of a tolerant ex-finance wizard. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and professional thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) to attempt their outlandish scheme.

It’s no wonder Tower Heist is fun and really suspenseful, especially with Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour movies) at the helm. The mix of humor and adventure certainly has its appeal, and here he proves once again that he knows how to merge the two without any one quality overshadowing the other. While the character introduction reveals typical Stiller traits (such as the well-mannered and abused nice guy), Alda (a coldly calculating elitist snob), and Peña (the novice prankster, quick-talking and unskilled), they are Broderick and Murphy the ones who steal the show, with unusual characteristics for each actor; a mousy and dejected math wizard and a foul-mouthed and petty con artist, respectively. Broderick provides some of the funniest comedy relief banter and Murphy is hooked on the exotic role of playing a stereotypically over-the-top jerk slowly morphing into the most lighthearted Beverly Hills cop character audiences find most endearing.

But the two strongest aspects of Tower Heist are the music and the editing, which relate to the cleverly constructed script. Christophe Beck’s catchy score is breathtakingly moving and pays homage to the oddly attractive unconformity of a rare time signature (something other than 4/4, not unlike Lalo Schifrin’s famous Mission: Impossible tune). The editing is equally consistent, including a series of unexpected cuts, as to avoid filming difficult scenes or ideas that could quickly lose their hilarity. During the robbery training and the actual robbery, the shooting ends abruptly; maybe the setup was becoming a flop, the details should never be shown, or the editor knew it would be more fun to leave the audience waiting. Similarly, the dialogue goes off on a tangent, with quite a bit of humor, usually when ineptitude or the weaker sex divert the characters’ conversations. Stiller’s comedies tend to poke fun at himself, but almost always in a more dignified way than comedians like Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell. In this Ocean’s Eleven-style farce, that approach is more rewarding, with laughs that are undoubtedly longer-lasting.

– The Massie Twins (