This year has presented me with more than a few surprises when it comes to cinema. Case in point is this week’s film, Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist. I’m not generally a fan of Ben Stiller comedies or Ratner’s work, but I found myself kicking back and enjoying the frothy heist film. The script is far better than expected and covers up for the majority of its faults, which become bigger towards the end.
The film follows a group of employees at the exclusive Tower apartments (aka Trump Tower). Building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) discovers that resident and multi-millionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) has run a Ponzi scheme that has depleted all the employees’ pensions and he is set to get away with it. With the help of a few employees with nothing to lose, Josh and crew will try to get the money that they deserve and bring Shaw to justice.
The film may borrow heavily from Ocean’s Eleven, but it still makes for an enjoyable and fun film. The film takes a similar premise of wronged people out to score big, while at the same time seeming incredibly timely with the rise of Occupy Wall Street. References to Merrill Lynch and other businesses don’t date the movie compared to other films. The one-liners are downplayed but when they’re out, you’re chuckling. Some of the more wayward exchanges have punch lines that come out of nowhere, including a hilarious exchange where the punch line is going from the movie Boys From Brazil to Boys Don’t Cry.
The ensemble cast work well together and really are what make the movie soar. Still may have a ridiculous New York accent but he makes for a solid straight man. Eddie Murphy though is the scene stealer and really should have been the star of this movie. His character Slide has a slew of great one-liners, in fact most of the films jokes are saved for him, and it’s sad to see how little screen time he gets. His character would have also benefited from an R-rating as he has scenes that would have benefited from the harder rating. The rest of the cast all have their moments to shine from Matthew Broderick’s sarcastic former banker to Alan Alda’s smarmy jerk. Some stars have more or less time, but they all blend to make a stellar cast.
The film’s biggest faults come towards the third act which is far too long and ridiculous. The hidden money angle is where laws of physics and smarts go completely out the window, literally and figuratively. Other elements that falter include the fact that no one blames Josh for losing their money. There’s a scene where the group gets angry but it’s never mentioned again and everyone goes along with Josh’s plan. The ending also feels extremely rushed, leaving you to guess some important information like what happened to Slide? Did Matthew Broderick’s character get his house back? It seemed like because the movie was running long they were cutting scenes.
I didn’t want to enjoy Tower Heist but I did and came away satisfied. I doubt I’ll remember this movie by next week, but it was a film I could sit back and turn my brain off which just needs to happen sometimes.