Wednesday, November 02, 2011

TOWER HEIST - Comeback Film for Eddie Murphy?

TOWER HEIST (crime drama)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, Casey Affleck, Michael Peña, Alan Alda, Judd Hirsch and Gabourey Sidibe
Director: Brett Ratner
Screenplay by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Stiller, Broderick and Murphy planning the Tower Heist

PREAMBLE: Tower Heist couldn't have been released at a better time - right after huge protests in America against corporate greed in Wall Street. With its premise centred around a bunch of workers at a residential tower teaming up to steal back millions stashed away by a greedy Ponzi-scheme investor (played by Alan Alda), it should work as a crowd-pleaser for all who work hard and yet are stuck in the economic rut.

Also, news that its director, Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame, has been picked (along with producer/director Don Mischer) to produce next year's 84th Annual Academy Awards telecast should also help to create interest in Tower Heist.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the manager of 'The Tower', a residential high-rise owned by hot-shot investor Arthur Shaw (Alda, pic, centre, with Tea Leoni). When Shaw is being investigated by the FBI for embezzling the employees' pension funds and other investment fraud, Kovacs realises that he and his colleagues are being cheated of their hard-earned savings by their boss.

Teaming up with a bunch of building staff and a resident, he decides to break into Shaw's penthouse and take back what he 'stole'. Among the bunch of hapless thieves are Mr Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), an evicted resident; Enrique (Michael Peña), an employee-in-training; and Charlie (Casey Affleck) the head concierge. Since none of these guys know anything about heists, Kovacs brings in serial law-breaker Slide (Eddie Murphy) and a Jamaican safe-cracker maid named Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe, pictured below) to help with their 'project'.

HITS & MISSES: I hate to admit it, but Murphy is a sight for sore eyes in this effort. For years, the dirty-mouthed comedian has been in the box-office wilderness, pretending to talk to animals and fooling around in latex suits. Here, he puts his motor-mouth to good use - and the laughs perk up when his Slide joins the gang. Also director Ratner must have made sure he is less offensive. Let's hope this will be a comeback film for his career.

Stiller, the mastermind and leader of the 'working class' does a good job even if his lines are not as funny as Murphy's. It is nice to see old Hawkeye Pierce Alda representing the 'cheating class' as the suave Arthur Shaw. Why, he even flirts with the FBI agent (played by Tea Leoni) who is out to nail him. On the down side, we have the usual loose ends - important plot turns being 'glossed over', leaving us to imagine how certain things are done. This, I am afraid, is a given in most crime thrillers and I will overlook it as long as the film is entertaining as a whole.

THE LOWDOWN: Tower Heist is quite entertaining.


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