Directed by: Brett Ratner
Release date: November 4, 2011
Editor's Rating: *** out of 4 stars.
I have a confession to make: I love Eddie Murphy.
I've been an Eddie Murphy fan since the beginning of his wonderful career. As a high school student in the 80's, my Saturday night highlight wasn't cavorting with friends at parties or the movies, it was hanging out in front of the television, taking in every moment of the latest Saturday Night Live offering. So, my favorable opinion of Tower Heist, which stars Murphy amongst a cast of very talented actors, is not driven from an objective point of view, but it is deserved.
Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, general manager of The Towers, a luxury high-rise apartment building which is home to many of New York's elite citizens. The Towers' wealthiest and most notable resident is the alarmingly arrogant billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who convinces the staff to invest their life savings with his firm. Unbeknownst to any of them, they are fueling Shaw's ponzi scheme and will soon be informed that Shaw's dealings are illegal and their money is gone.
Kovacs initiates and masterminds a scheme to exact revenge on Shaw, recruiting many of his jilted co-workers, none of whom have experience in conducting illegal activity. This leads him to recruit Slide (Murphy), a career criminal, who Kovacs has known since childhood (the scene between Slide and Kovacs that sheds light on their background together is hilarious).
With everyone in place, the crew begin to execute their plan, but not always according to plan. There are many crazy moments in Tower Heist, which all seem pretty far-fetched and insane (think high-speed chase during the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City), but thanks to the exceptional talents of the cast, which also includes Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck (Ocean's trilogy and Ben's younger brother), Gabby Sidibe (Precious) Tea Leoni (Spanglish) and Michael Pena (Shooter), the ridiculous moments actually work and are highly entertaining.
Murphy is the glue that makes the film gel. His scenes with Stiller, Sidibe and Broderick provide instant chemistry. I watched the film with a friend who labeled him the scene-stealer. Eddie Murphy a scene-stealer? I think the better description of his performance would be of comic icon who did what he does best in the film; deliver his lines with unrivaled talent and impeccable comedic timing. His bobby pin tutorial is my favorite moment of the film. Director Brett Ratner was very wise to allow Eddie to run with his lines. It pays off very well for everyone involved.
Naturally, Tower Heist invokes memories of Bernie Madoff, the notorious hedge fund manager who was convicted of bilking billions from investors through his ponzi scheme. I'm sure real-life victims of all con artists who will see Tower Heist will watch with envy, wishing they could get the same revenge on their assailants. Hopefully, it'll also lend a moment of levity to their situation.
*I viewed this film at the theater and purchased a ticket with my personal funds.
Tower Heist on DVD!