January 31, 2012

Movie Review: Tower Heist

Stars: Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, Casey Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Gabourey Sidibe PG-13

MC and I love movies about well-planned crimes, movies that have have precise, choreographed-to-the-minute criminal schemes that pull off the impossible in a completely logical way. (Not sure what that says about us.) Tower Heist is just this sort of movie and given that it also boasts Eddie Murphy--in a return to his signature rapid-fire, outrageous form--we were looking forward to seeing it.

Ben Stiller is Josh Kovacs, manager at a residential high-rise for the uber rich. He's great at his job, liked by everyone, and on a first name basis with both employees and residents alike, including Alan Alda's character, Arthur Shaw, who resides in the penthouse apartment. Shaw is a Bernie Madoff-type who gets arrested for fraud. Turns out, among the millions of dollars Shaw has lost is the pension money for the employees of the Tower where he lives. After confronting Shaw, Kovacs loses his job. Soon after, he learns from the FBI agent investigating Shaw (Leoni), that they believe he has $20 million stashed somewhere. Kovacs then recruits Tower employees (Affleck, Pena, Sidibe), a former resident (Broderick), and a thief (Murphy) to plan a heist in which they will steal the $20 million to pay back the pension.

Tower Heist is a fun, quick-paced comedy that lived up to our expectations. Of course, things don't go near as smoothly as planned, but how could they when they are all everyday schlubs pretending to be criminal masterminds? There were a few low points however. Sidibe (of Precious fame) is sorely miscast. I was truly creeped out watching a girl her age hit on someone old enough to be her father. Also, there was a completely unbelievable stunt involving a window washing scaffold and a car that went beyond my limit of sustained belief. (Note to Hollywood: Please call a moratorium on using window washing scaffolds as plot devices. It is beyond tired.) Overall I found the movie funny and entertaining. I enjoyed that the ending wasn't quite what you might expect and I enjoy watching Alda in anything. A fun movie all around. (****)

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