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Tower Heist | Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, Michael Pena, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni | Review

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4_Chicks_Small Judy Thorburn

Las Vegas Round The Clock -
Women's Film Critic Circle -
Nevada Film Critics Society -
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Tower Heist

Director Brett Ratner's (Rush Hour 3, X Men: The Last Stand) latest film, Tower Heist is a timely comedy caper ripped from recent headlines. Think Bernie Madoff, the man who bilked millions from his investors and is now spending the rest of his life in prison, and you get Alan Alda's despicable character Arthur Shaw, a wall street titan made from the same mold, if you get my drift.

Eddie Murphy co-produced the film with Brian Grazer. The comedic actor supposedly came up with the idea for this story and cast himself opposite Ben Stiller and an all star ensemble cast. Together they make up a wacky team of hardworking stiffs on a mission for payback, and I mean that literally, since megabucks are involved.

For a decade, Josh Kovacs (Stiller) has been the manager of a Manhattan luxury high rise (actually The Trump Tower on Columbus Circle). During that time, he has gotten to know the ins and outs of every resident and the day to day goings on in the well secured apartment building. His boss, the owner of the building, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, once again cast against his real life nice guy image) a billionaire financier, resides in the spacial penthouse where he keeps his most prized possession, Steve MacQueen's red Ferrari in the living room.

After the lying and scheming Shaw is arrested for securities fraud, Josh discovers that both he and his employees were also swindled out of their pensions/retirement savings Shaw was trusted to manage. For one employee, Lester, the beloved doorman (Stephen McKinley Henderson) who is about to retire, losing his entire retirement savings of $73,000, has him so distraught that he attempts suicide. Angry as hell and feeling betrayed by Shaw's unscrupulous actions and its consequences, Josh comes up with a plan to steal $20 million dollars believed to be stashed in a safe in Shaw's penthouse where he is being held under house arrest by FBI special agent Claire Denham (the wonderful Tea Leoni, who has a few good scenes that show off her talents) and her team.

To accomplish his mission, Josh recruits several of Shaw's victims including disgruntled employees , Charlie (Casey Affleck), the concierge married to Josh's sister and expecting a baby, newly hired bellhop Enrique (a surprisingly funny turn by Michael Pena) who calls himself a “Puerto Rican Mohican” because of his mixed heritage, a broke, ex wall street stockbroker Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick, pitch perfect as a nerdy type) whose condo is in foreclosure and is about to be evicted, and Jamaican housemaid/safe cracker Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe, far removed from her dramatic role as Precious), none of whom have ever stolen anything and don't have a clue where to begin.

That's where Murphy's character, Slide enters the picture as a petty street thief and childhood acquaintance of Josh's from his old neighborhood in Queens that Josh enlists to his help in the robbery. It's great seeing Eddie Murphy back doing what he does best, playing a cocky, wise cracking, motor mouth guy from the streets. He is hilarious, stealing every scene.

In fact, what makes Tower Heist so watchable and entertaining are the actors, each spot on in their perspective, well cast roles that fit them to a T. The best scenes show their camaraderie, back and forth banter spewed with comical dialogue that often goes off in zany, very funny directions.

The plot includes preposterous, silly shenanigans, especially a few scenes revolving around the Thanksgiving Day Parade that are difficult to buy. Yet, all things considered, Tower Heist does work as a non offensive, very funny piece of escapist entertainment. Like the mission at stake, for the most part, it is well executed and succeeds in getting the job done.


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