Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Movie Review: Tower Heist

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Wanted to head out to see A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Unfortunately, my normal theaters only had the up charge versions (3D, digital 3D and Titan XC) and I very rarely pay for 3D. This was not one of those times. I didn't discover until after I had seen Tower Heist that I could have seen H&K in 2D, but it would have been an hour trip via bus each way. Interesting that the two biggest theaters on the island decided not to carry the cheaper 2D version of the film and relegated the film to the lesser locations within each chain.

Tower Heist Movie Poster
So we have a group of people working at an upscale residence in New York City called The Tower. Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, the building manager. He and a number of the staff have worked there for years serving their clients of which one is Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) who is an investment manager and happens to own the penthouse apartment with the pool on top. Other workers at The Tower include concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck) who is also Josh’s brother-in-law, about to retire and travel doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson), new hire elevator man Enrique (Michael Pena) and feisty Jamaican housekeeper Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe).

It turns out that Shaw and Bernie Madhoff were cut from the same cloth in bilking investors of their money. Actually Madhoff was never mentioned, but the end result was the same, people lost lots of money including Shaw whose accounts seem to have dried up as well leaving nothing for the victims to get back. Josh had entrusted Shaw with the retirement fund for the workers and they are all left with naught. When FBI agent on the case Claire Denham (Tea Leone) suggests to Josh that these guys always store away some get away money, Josh figures that he might know where it might be and wants to attempt to get back their pension fund money. He recruits some of his coworkers and a former building resident in an attempt to break into Shaw’s unit in the secure building but shortly realize they are basically all good people who don’t have a clue to pull this off properly.

In comes Slide (Eddie Murphy), a petty criminal who used to go to daycare with and now lives a few doors down the street from Josh. But can you trust a petty criminal when $20 million dollars is involved? Is it time to move up to the big leagues? As with all heist movies, you can plan, but you can’t predict everything. As Julie Chen on Big Brother would remind houseguests, “To expect the unexpected”, the bulk of the movie is how to adapt and adjust when the unanticipated and unforeseen does happen.

Is it a great movie? No. Is it a fun movie? Yes. Is it believable? To an extent, yeah; as Josh points out to his coworkers, they know all about the building, its workings, the residents and their habits. They’ve been casing the place for years but never realized it. It explains some of the reasoning and why they can do what they do, but the screenwriters also leave some pretty big holes in the logic. Stiller remained calm as the building manager not going into the anger and freak outs like we’ve seen him do is so many other movies, Mr Furious from Mystery Men comes to mind. We’ve seen Murphy play the Slide character before as a person who is charming one moment and very dubious and devious the next. Rated PG 13 for some sexual content and language, director Brett Ratner gave some decent action/suspense scenes throughout the movie keeping people on the edge of their seats for part of the 104 minute running time.

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