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“Tower Heist” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 5, 2011

My eyes rolled when I saw Brett Ratner’s name attached to yet another action-comedy. He hasn’t had the best track record in a while. Botching up the third “X-Men” movie, making the unnecessary “Rush Hour 3”, remaking Michael Mann’s “Manhunter” (“Red Dragon”). Ratner hasn’t done a solid movie in my eyes since “Rush Hour 2”, and that’s saying something.

Then there’s Eddie Murphy, who’s also been a huge disappointment for nearly the past decade. Making family films after lousy family films. People miss old school ‘funny’ Eddie, where’d he go? If he voices Donkey one more time, I’m ready to snap! It’s getting old!

Well, I’m pleased to say that both Brett Ratner & Eddie Murphy shine in a comeback with “Tower Heist”. I have no idea what took them long, but whatever they did, they did something right with this movie. With a sharp screenplay by Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me if You Can”) & Ted Griffin (“Matchstick Men”), a brilliant cast of characters, and some spot on direction by Brett Ratner, “Tower Heist” is the first surprise flick to the kick-off Holiday season that’s upon us.

The movie is a comedy caper about the working stiffs of a luxury Central Park condominium, The Tower, who all seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who stiffed them of their pensions and retirement funds.  Lead by the building manager, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), he forms the unlikely team of dimwitted employees, and a common thief (Murphy) plot the ultimate revenge, by stealing back the $20 million that was taken from them, and returning it back to the good, hard working employees of The Tower.

A movie like this should not have worked. To me, it had fail written all over it. Ben Stiller’s a hit/miss, Murphy wasn’t funny anymore, and Brett Ratner I could care two shits for. So, how did this work? I’d like to think that Ratner found some kind of religion, or took a gander at what made “Moneytalks” & “Rush Hour 1 & 2” work, and then applied it to this.

For the longest time, Ratner & Murphy were in early stages to make a “Beverly Hills Cop 4”, after that fell through, they still wanted to work together on some kind of crime/action/comedy. Murphy is back in full form. Fans of Eddie Murphy can rejoice, ‘cause he’s back in the kind of movie that made him a star during the 80’s. He needs to maintain this momentum. I want RAW Eddie back!

Ben Stiller was also in top form, bringing out that old school NYC accent, where’ve you been hiding that Mr. Stiller? With the likes Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Matthew Broderick, Gabourey Sidibe, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, they were all were fantastic in the respective roles. A comedy with a great ensemble cast makes a great comedy.

The story seem to work in a way where it reflects quite well of the times we live in. We’ve got sort of Bernie Madoff story going on here, and having the middle class worker becoming the heroes, taking back what’s theirs, is quite empowering. The scheme itself is a tad bit on the ridiculous side, especially the last 15 mins of the movie, but for what it is, it’s an enjoyable fluff of a comedy, and rings back to the style of 70’s heist films.

GRADE: B+

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