Movie Review – ‘Tower Heist’ finds a way to steal your attention

 

Comedic energy – It’s not often you have action and comedy and it actually works. Yeah, plenty have tried over the years, but most fail producing a picture that falls short in all the important areas.  For that reason, no one ever takes this genre seriously which is why I too never gave “Tower Heist” much thought.  And thinking back, I struggle to remember the last film remotely like this that worked.  Maybe “Rush Hour 3,” which just happened to be directed by Brett Ratner, the same guy behind the camera here. Coincidence? I think not.What’s it about? In what strangely feels like a “Ocean’s Eleven” gone rouge, this one follows building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) and his crew within a luxury apartment complex dubbed The Tower.  For the most part, this was just an ordinary complex with all the tenants you would expect, except for the one in the penthouse.  That resident was none other than Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), a wealthy businessman and building hero to many of the tenants and staff. That was until he was caught by F.B.I. special agent Clair Denham (Tea Leoni) trying to flee the country one day, ultimately being accused of a Ponzi scheme.  Turns out Shaw wasn’t what he appeared to be, apparently losing most of The Tower’s staff pension’s, including Lester (Stephen Henderson), a longtime doorman only months away from retirement. Upon realizing all this, Josh immediately rushed up to Shaw’s apartment to confront him. And after a brief and unsatisfying exchange, Josh begins to take a golf club to Shaw’s most prized decoration, a classic Ferrari 250. Of course, this kind of reaction, although impactful, did not sit well with Josh’s boss, who promptly fired him and whoever else was with him in Shaw’s apartment. A few days later, while having one too many at a bar with Claire, Josh learns of $20 million dollars that Shaw has hidden in his apartment.  Determined to find this stash, Josh assembles a small group of nobody’s to help steal this money back leading to a hilarious and surprisingly fulfilling conclusion. Acting a fool – There’s no doubt that Eddie Murphy being in this film makes it a tad bit more intriguing. In fact, without Murphy, this film would have never been half of what it was.  Hard to believe I’m saying that about Murphy, but it’s true as his own ‘Slide’ made his mark more than once.  In fact, seeing Murphy do this kind of work again makes you reminisce to the days when Axel Foley was running down bad guys in “Beverly Hills Cop.”  But, that wasn’t all as his back and forth with Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick was uncanny.  Sure, Stiller is the same guy we always see, but that’s OK and here it worked for what this story was. I’m not sure if he deserved the $15 million he was paid to do this role, but that’s a conversation for another day.  As for Matthew Broderick, it was good to see him, but sadly he could be replaced by virtually anyone in Hollywood for his role as Mr. Fitzhugh. That, however, could not be said for Casey Affleck, who sort of came out of his dramatic shell for some comedy. I love that and really enjoyed what he did here, as his deadpan timing was just what this story needed. That and apparently a new and improved Tea Leoni, who crawled out from under whatever rock she has been under since “Bad Boys” to be in this film.  I didn’t even know she was in it, so to see her work within this unique story was fun to watch.I smell a Ratner! For those that don’t know who Brett Ratner is, don’t feel bad because frankly he hasn’t been around all that long. In fact, this is only his tenth feature film since he broke onto the scene with “Rush Hour” back in 1998. That seems like forever ago and as much as I hate to admit it, I think Ratner has gotten better as a director. Sure, I would like to forget what he did or should I say didn’t do with “X-Men: The Last Stand,” but overall I like his style.  He still has potential at the ripe age of 42, which sounds weird, but given his resume is oddly realistic.  And truthfully, I think he did well with everything that was going on within this action flick sprinkled with comedy.  Yeah, there might have been a few farfetched aspects to this film, but who cares given the genre. I mean, if you don’t expect some of that with a film like this, you shouldn’t be allowed to watch it. It’s that simple and given all the hidden politics laced in and around this story, I liked the ultimate result. Bottom Line – Hard to believe this entire concept was pitched to producer Brian Grazer back in 2005 by Eddie Murphy, who imagined a slightly different result.  But, when the script goes through the hell that this one did for five years, just seeing a semi-successful release is a win for all parties involved. So, we’ll see what happens, but at least for the time being, this makes for a good ‘popcorn flick’ to take in before the holiday rush. B To read more from Marcus, click here

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