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Review: Tower Heist

daniel cohen gets all sorts of heisty with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy …

Plot: After Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), the wealthiest resident at the Towers (an elite New York penthouse), gets arrested for fraudulent business dealings, the crew at the Towers loses all the money that was invested to him. The building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) wants revenge, and rounds up a group of his employees and a former criminal (Eddie Murphy) to pull a heist at the Towers where Shaw supposedly has $20 million locked in his safe.

How about we take Ocean’s 11, but we make it a lot less fun and not nearly as clever? That apparently was the goal in the new Brett Ratner ‘comedy’ Tower Heist. Tower Heist is one of those movies that’s just there. It’s not a bad film, but there’s nothing here to write home about.

Ratner is very lucky he got the actors he did. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck … these guys are all very talented, but are given absolutely no material to work with. It’s pretty much just them doing everything they can to help the film. They are all very likable, and you definitely root for them, which was the one reason the movie held my interest. Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller are actually toned down in this. Murphy is very ‘Murphy-light,’ but still gets you to chuckle. And Stiller really only has one ‘Ben Stiller’ type scene where he flies off the handle. Other than that, he’s actually very subdued and business like, but I really liked his character a lot.

One of the other bright spots to the film was the romantic angle between Stiller’s character and Tea Leoni as an FBI agent. They had a lot of fun chemistry together, and it seemed to be the one point in the script where the writers had some fun.

While this movie lacked a lot of comedy, the one guy who definitely made me laugh consistently was Michael Pena as Enrique. He was the one guy who was given great material, a lot of solid one-liners, most of them involving Burger King oddly enough. We also saw Pena in last summer’s 30 Minutes Or Less where he stole a lot of scenes, so I’m looking forward to what he does next.

But as I said before, with the exception of Pena and a little bit of Murphy, the film just isn’t funny. There’s no punch to any of the jokes. Look at the actors you got…write something funny! The one character they desperately wanted to make funny was the maid played by Gabourey Sidibe, but it just wasn’t working.

The heist itself isn’t even that much fun. It’s predictable with a few clever moments here and there, but it’s mostly going through the motions. There are no twists to it. And when there are twists, like when a character shifts his allegiance or does something unexpected, they don’t follow up on it. It’s just like, ‘eh, whatever, how about he just do this so we can get to the end.’

There’s also a character moment at the end involving the cliché kindly old doorman (Stephen McKinley Henderson) who basically almost kills a bunch of people, but he’s just laughing it up as the movie wants you have fun with it…that was a little unsettling.

Every time I thought the movie was going to get good, it under-delivered. It’s mostly set-ups with no pay off. There’s a moment at a mall food court where Eddie Murphy’s character Slide wants Kovacs’ crew to prove themselves and steal $50 worth of merchandise at the mall. This could have been really funny, but instead my reaction was ‘eh.’

That’s pretty much the tone of the whole movie: ‘eh.’ There was a lot of potential here. This could have been a wackier and funnier Ocean’s 11: the cast was in place to do it. While I like the characters and wanted them to succeed, the movie unfortunately falls flat.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.


  1. Made me laugh and held my interest more than it should have, given how sloppy it is. Call it an acceptable bit of B-minus work from a C student. Good review. Come on over and pop-by my review when you get the chance.

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