CliqueClack Flicks

Tower Heist – Moderately enjoyable if very ridiculous comedy

Tower Heist - Theater Review
Release Date: 11/04/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'Tower Heist' is another timely "in the zeitgeist" populist movie about the working man's revenge - it's not completely hilarious, but it's not so bad either.

Tower Heist

Today’s review of Brett Ratner‘s (Rush Hours 1 through 50, the tied for worst X-men movie) new film Tower Heist will be presented a bit differently than normal, as it will very periodically be interrupted by another reviewer I like to call “Enthusiastic People Sitting Behind Me.” The movie stars Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Keeping the Faith) as Josh Kovaks, the building manager for a swanky New York apartment building, which also has the apartment for rich investor Arthur Shaw, played by Alan Alda (The West Wing, What Women Want). Naturally, Ben is just the best building manager around, knowing precisely everything about the tenants and how to manage his nutty employees, who include Charlie the Concierge (Casey Affleck — Ben Affleck’s brother), Somewhat Multicultural Enrique the Elevator Operator (Michael Peña), and Odessa the Jamaican Cleaning Lady (Gabourey Sidibe).

Now that’s hilarious! It’s a funny accent and she doesn’t fit the conventional standards of beauty in Hollywood! I could be her!

Right … or perhaps it’s bizarrely near-offensive, with jokes about green cards and Kingston. Anyway, just as Ben is instructed to evict crazy and impoverished Mr. Fitzhugh, played by Matthew Broderick (The Lion King, Inspector Gadget), the proverbial shoe drops. Alan Alda has been accused of defrauding investors — and he’s also lost the invested pensions of every employee in the building.

See that? That rich guy is a jerk and Ben badly wants revenge but is far too much a gentleman. The predictable thing would be for him to later go nuts on something, and I’ll really enjoy it.

Spurred to action by the dire straits, Josh gets fired with Charlie and Enrique, and suggests robbing Alan Alda of the nest egg they are positive he’s hidden somewhere in his apartment. But to do that, they’ll need help from a criminal — and Josh just happens to live near Slide, a local lowlife played by Eddie Murphy (Shrek, The-Movie-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named). And so the heist is on … and a nutty level of hijinks quickly ensue.

The juxtaposition between near-felon Eddie Murphy and decent working class folk like everyone in the movie other than Alan Alda (and to a lesser extent, his assistant, the Evil Judd Hirsch) makes me feel vindicated about my own shortcomings — and besides, it’s funny when Eddie Murphy uses mild profanity and racial slurs in front of white guys!

The movie is best when it embraces its inherent nonsensical nature and abandons any semblance of suspension of disbelief — it stumbles when it gets sincere, albeit only briefly. A few specific (I won’t spoil them) plot points go in non-cliched directions, which is a pleasant surprise. Basically everyone has decent comedic timing in the movie, although Ben Stiller plays a straight man — meaning he’s often the guy who isn’t quite so funny. I know everyone was worried, but Eddie Murphy is funny in this movie, even with his pretty offensive comments scattered throughout. And it’s nice to see Gabourey Sidibe utilize her comedy capabilities, even through the slightly uncomfortable accent.

If you leave a comedy feeling like “Yeah, that was fun” or “You know, I don’t feel like I wasted my money,” that’s a sign that it’s marginally successful. That’s basically the case here for Tower Heist. It’s hardly the funniest movie of the year or the cleverest, or even the best Anti-Rich Man Fantasy (although it’s better than last week’s In Time). But it’s a fun time, and sometimes that’s all you really need.

And who knows, you might really like it — like my guest reviewer, who clapped and cheered throughout, and left feeling like Eddie Murphy hadn’t embarrassed himself at all.




Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Categories: News, Reviews, Theater Releases

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