January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 38°F


‘Tower Heist’: A-list comedy robbed of plot

Hysterical actors are thrown into a much less entertaining “Ocean’s 11”-style caper comedy in “Tower Heist.” Even the celebrated return of Eddie Murphy can’t save this crowd-pleasing, but far-fetched and forgettable film.

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the general manager of a luxurious and well-secured residence in New York City. When the tower’s richest resident, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), gets accused of fraud, Kovacs and his fellow employees lose their savings and decide to rob his high-rise flat that’s presumed to have $20 million in hidden cash. Desperate for help, Kovacs goes to Slide (Murphy), a small-time crook who proves to be key in executing the heist.

Director Brett Ratner places more emphasis on the setup than the actual robbery itself. Ratner has assembled one serious cast for the film with Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, and Téa Leoni. But it’s Murphy as Slide that gives the film its spark.

Murphy’s return to the big screen after years of “Shrek” is refreshing, but the other actors can’t compete with his comedic timing. When he’s not onscreen, the film lags and becomes an average heist flick.

Jamaican housemaid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) adds to the craziness, and Ratner makes the correct move in giving her certain humorous scenes with Murphy. But she can’t escape the convoluted stereotypical jokes in the script relating to her weight.

The idea of the everyday American taking back what was originally his or hers gets lost amidst the fancy production values. What begins as a fresh Robin Hood-esque heist comedy sadly becomes a standard showy celebrity film.

Stiller portrays Josh as an honest, all-American working man looking to help his friends since he invested their money with Shaw in the first place. But the script leaves his character in the dust in the end, and he is left with an amusing but unsatisfying flirtatious plotline with cop Claire Denham (Leoni).

When Stiller’s crew finally robs the penthouse, the film’s plot unravels. Despite the entertaining conclusion, the film spends too much time building up to the robbery, rather than showing it.

Murphy and the rest of the ensemble bring their Hollywood charm and easy-to-love charisma to the fluff storyline, but “Tower Heist” is robbed of its potential in the end.

“Tower Heist” was directed by Brett Ratner and written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson.

2.5 stars out of 4.