Written by / 11/04/2011 / No comments / , , , , , ,

TOWER HEIST

title: TOWER HEIST
year: 2011
cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Judd Hirsch
rating: **1/2

It’s tough not to feel for the employees of The Tower, a high rise harboring a crooked penthouse tycoon who’s swindled their pensions. And Ben Stiller, playing his usual likable everyman, gets caught in the middle – as the manager who suggested they invest in the first place. After getting fired for standing up to the Ponzi-scheming Arthur Shaw, played with cocky indifference by Alan Alda, Stiller decides to rob the penthouse suite along with Casey Affleck as a flaky concierge, Matthew Broderick as a whining has-been investor, Michael Pena as a sweet-natured elevator operator, and Eddie Murphy as Stiller’s convict neighbor called upon, thanks to his criminal record, to oversee the caper. On the surface it seems Murphy’s back to form, playing the jive-ass from his cinematic origins; but his frantic rants seem like a Reggie Hammond (48 HRS) and/or Billy Ray Valentine (TRADING PLACES) imitation more than an actual person. And the other characters, though partaking in a worthy cause, seem to have little motivation or risk. As a comedy, there aren’t many funny lines or moments; a large percentage of the film has our over-their-head heroes either planning, or executing, the heist while spouting pop trivia. And the heist itself happens much too breezily till a third-act twist catapults the plot to a new level. It’s here – when the mission seems (and is) thoroughly implausible – that the best moments occur, including nail-biting scenes that'll keep you on edge while the characters, who sort of slept-walked through the first half, become a team to root for.
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