Movie Review: Tower Heist

Mike Finkelstein lost a lot of money in the stock market.  It turns out that Alan Alda, who seems to be the nicest guy in the world in M.A.S.H, is kind of an SOB.  With that, Mike decided he’d steal from Alda.  He still likes M.A.S.H though.  Here is his review of “Tower Heist”.

PLOT: When the staff of a New York high-rise is swindled out of their life savings by the building’s richest tenant (Alan Alda) and his Ponzi scheme, the building’s manager (Ben Stiller) decides to take him for everything he’s got: a rumored hidden nest egg of $20 Million in cash.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  In a day and age where the economy is in shambles, the stock market is all but crashed, and the middle class is the dying victim of rich banks, traders, and Bernie Madoffs, what better way to escape from it all than with an action-comedy film that takes it all back?  TOWER HEIST, despite being in development since 2005, was released at the perfect time.  It is amazingly relevant to the country’s situation today, and it gives us a chance to feel like for once, we’re back in the driver’s seat.  Oh yeah…and it’s pretty damn funny, too.

TOWER HEIST follows the hard working employees of New York’s The Tower.  Led by dedicated building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), it is their job to cater to every need of their rich tenants.  But when the building’s richest resident, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is arrested for a Ponzi scheme that included the pensions of all the employees, Kovacs takes it upon himself to go after Shaw’s rumored safety net—$20 Million in cash.  He enlists the help of the building’s best misfits, including his by-the-rules brother-in-law (Casey Affleck), a destroyed former stock player and resident (Matthew Broderick), the new dumb as nails elevator operator (Michael Pena) and a smart-aleck, sexed up Jamaican maid (Gabourey Sidibe), as well as the only possible ‘thief’ he could think of: a random loudmouth neighbor and old pre-school classmate named Slide (Eddie Murphy).

With this cast, it’s obvious that there is a lot of fun to be had.  The pace doesn’t stop, and the story keeps building to the point where you’re not sure where they’re going next.  While both Murphy and Stiller are top billed, Stiller is no doubt the leading man, and (ironically enough for anyone who has seen his other movies) the straight man of the group.  Yes, he sports a really horrible Brooklyn accent, but the way that he cares for all his staff shines through and makes him someone you want to root for.

As for the rest of the band of wannabe thieves, the laughs are pretty well spread out.  Everyone gets their moment to shine, most specifically Murphy and Broderick.  After almost a decade of us wanted to gouge our eyes out from PLUTO NASH to MEET DAVE, Murphy is back in form, giving us a taste of what he used to be with curse after curse and welcomed long, tightly cut rants that’ll make Robin Williams jealous.  (If only he could follow this up with something just as rewarding, instead of A THOUSAND WORDS.)  Broderick’s subtle sarcasm plays wonderfully, and made for many quick laughs (if you were smart enough to catch them).

The person who really steals the scenes, though, is Alan Alda as the ruthless and downright disgusting Arthur Shaw.  Alda is known for M.A.S.H. and being a ridiculously nice guy, but here, he is so slimy and sinister, you just want to scratch him every time he hits the screen.  He doesn’t exude over-the-top anger and fierceness, but rather cuts through our crew with his comments, knowing that they are nothing in comparison to him.  Absolutely revolting.

With all the good of TOWER HEIST, there are some major plot holes that weighs it down.  The entire set up for the climax, having to do with the changing of a court date, comes out of nowhere and with no explanation as to how it was possible.  Also, moving something from point A to point B during that climax, all on the fly and not planned, was just too damn ridiculous.  After seeing the group attempting to do things according to plan, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth to see it all fall apart due to bad storytelling.  Luckily for us, the quick movements and closing moments sweep that taste away and replace it with something pretty satisfying.

TOWER HEIST is not a perfect movie by any means, but it works.  Yes, it has its flaws, but as both a comedy and a heist film, it delivers an entertaining and satisfying story, and that’s more than what I can say for many other movies out there today.  If you’re looking to kill two hours and enjoy a few laughs with some old friends (welcome back Eddie!) I’d definitely recommend it.

And if you disagree, then hopefully, you’ve learned enough from those two hours to steal something worth the price of your movie tickets…

GRADE: B+

Mike’s LIKES:

1) EDDIE MURPHY’S BACK!: After having to suffer through even the previews of movies like MEET DAVE, IMAGINE THAT, and NORBIT, it’s awesome to see Murphy back in form.  The guy was raunchy, cursing, and the best part of the film by far.  I really hope that after A THOUSAND WORDS gets released, he finally moves on from that crap for good.

2) MATTHEW BRODERICK: I haven’t been a fan of Broderick for a while, but here, he plays depressing and sarcastic beautifully, making for some really subtle, hearty laughs.

3) DESTROYING A CAR IS FUN: Yeah…I just had a lot of fun watching this scene.  Who doesn’t want to take a golf club to a car once in a while?

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) BEN STILLER’S BROOKLYN ACCENT: Maybe it’s because I grew up in Queens, but hearing a Brooklyn accent from a kid who grew up in Astoria by Steinway Blvd (it’s a Street…) just made me cringe.

2) DRUNKEN FBI AGENT: Too easy/cliché, no?

3) THE TOWER: I get that it was probably the perfect location and structure,  but imagine using the Empire State Building and calling it The State Building.  Strange to see Trump digitally replaced with The.

4) NO ONE SEES THAT?!: Can’t even explain this, but all I’m saying is if someone is always able to spot someone trying to jump from a ledge 30 stories up, there is no way that this went unnoticed.

5) PLOT HOLES?: When you have major details that need an explanation, you don’t just let it pass like nothing happened.  Hopefully, this’ll be resolved in the deleted scenes.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) Because filming actually took place during the summer, fake snow was used when Slide teaches the guys how to pick locks on the rooftop.

2) The film was first being developed as an “African American OCEAN’S ELEVEN, with Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock considered to star.  When Ben Stiller was signed on as the lead, the role was rewritten and tailored for him.

 

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