Release Date: 4th November, 2011
Cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Casey Affleck, Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch, Michael Peña and Alan Alda
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer/s: Adam Cooper & Bill Collage, Russell Gewirtz, Rawson Marshall Thurber, Ted Griffin, Leslie Dixon, Noah Baumbach, Jeff Nathanson
Producer/s: Brian Grazer, Eddie Murphy
Plot: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead an all-star cast in Tower Heist, a comedy caper about working stiffs who seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler who stiffed them. After the workers at a luxury Central Park condominium discover the penthouse billionaire has stolen their retirement, they plot the ultimate revenge: a heist to reclaim what he took from them.
Queens native Josh Kovacs (Stiller) has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. In the swankiest unit atop Josh’s building, Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is under house arrest after being caught stealing two billion from his investors. The hardest hit among those he defrauded? The tower staffers whose pensions he was entrusted to manage.
With only days before Arthur gets away with the perfect crime, Josh’s crew turns to petty crook Slide (Murphy) to plan the nearly impossible…to steal what they are sure is hidden in Arthur’s guarded condo. Though amateurs, these rookie thieves know the building better than anyone. Turns out they’ve been casing the place for years, they just didn’t know it.
When a group of hardworking guys find out that they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy businessman’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence. Find out more in the review of Tower Heist.
Business rating: 2/5 stars
Star cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe.
What’s Good: The comedy; Eddie Murphy; the other performances.
What’s Bad: The frivolity of the drama; the lack of an emotional connect between the characters and with the audience.
Verdict: Tower Heist is an entertaining fare which can hope to find some patronage.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for Eddie Murphy’s comic scenes, if not for anything else.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment’s Tower Heist is a comedy about a group of people who decide to rob their former boss who has cheated them of their life savings.
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the manager of New York’s most expensive residential tower and has been efficiently managing the service staff of the building for many years. He is on good terms with the building owner, Wall Street financier, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who lives in the penthouse of the tower.
Soon, Arthur is arrested by the FBI for being involved in securities fraud. Around the same time, it is revealed that Arthur was bankrupt and that all his investors, especially the smaller ones, would lose their investment. Years ago, Josh had entrusted the pension money of the tower’s service staff to Arthur as he promised handsome returns. Since Arthur and all his investments have gone under, there is no hope of recovery of the pension money. Yet, Josh believes that Arthur, who is put under house arrest in his penthouse, will be able to give them back their money.
However, within days, Josh realises that Arthur is a fraudster when he finds out that Arthur had even taken the personal savings of the building’s doorman, Lester (Stephen Henderson). After the news of Arthur’s fund mismanagement spreads, old Lester, who was making retirement plans, tries to commit suicide. Josh also catches up with the FBI Special Agent, Claire Denham (Téa Leoni), who tells him that ultimately, none of the employees of the tower will get their life-earnings back and that in all probability, Arthur Shaw will walk free.
Now, Josh loses his cool and alongwith two other employees, enters Arthur’s penthouse and bashes up his vintage car, which is kept in the house itself. Arthur dismisses Josh’s attempts as revenge. Soon enough, the management also fires Josh, the concierge, Charlie (Casey Affleck), and the lift boy, Enrique (Michael Peña), who had accompanied Josh to the penthouse when he had attacked the car.
Out of job and angry, Josh teams up with Charlie, Enrique, former resident of the tower, Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), crook Slide (Eddie Murphy), and a current tower employee, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), in an attempt to steal $10 million from Arthur’s apartment. Is the motley group able to steal the money? What plans do they make in order to steal the money? What about Arthur’s court case? What about the FBI agent?
Tower Heist Review: Script Analysis
Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson’s screenplay, based on a story by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Ted Griffin, picks up primarily in the latter half when the distinct and funny characters come together to hatch a plan to enter the building and steal the money. Slide and Josh’s interactions have the audience in splits as they are two people who are very unlike each other – one is a hard-nosed criminal who doesn’t think twice before stealing, and the latter is a straight-jacketed guy who is (foolishly) attempting a crime for the first time. The dialogues, in the parts where the foursome break into the penthouse, when they are caught in the lift, and when they manage to loot the belongings of Arthur, are hilarious. The drama is fast-paced in the second half and there are enough twists and turns to keep the audience engaged. The action scenes are superlative. A car and some people, all dangling out of a multi-storeyed building, will be exciting for some and enjoyably scary for others.
It is an impressive build-up to the drama and the emotional connection of the audience with the characters which are missing. The writers, in fact, do not seem to take their characters very seriously, which means that the film ends up being funny but also eminently forgettable.
Tower Heist Review: Performances & Direction
Ben Stiller looks ill at ease, especially because he usually plays the oppressed and not the oppressor as in this film. He is convincing enough though. Eddie Murphy, who returns to the big screen after a long gap, is the life of the film. His typical manner of talking, his gestures, everything make the audience laugh out loud. Casey Affleck is his effective self, as always. Alan Alda elicits spite from the audience, as is required of him. Téa Leoni is cast perfectly as the strict FBI officer. Matthew Broderick and Stephen Henderson stand out in their short roles. Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe, Nina Arianda (as Miss Iovenko), Judd Hirsch (as Mr. Simon) and others support well.
Director Brett Ratner does what he is best at – putting disparate characters in situations that lead to comedy – in Tower Heist. And in this case, he succeeds most of the times. Christophe Beck’s background score is alright. Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is good. Editing, by Mark Helfrich, could have been sharper.
Tower Heist Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Tower Heist entertains while it lasts. It will do average business in the metropolitan cities of India owing to word of mouth publicity.