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Tower Heist’

Patrick McManus | Thursday, November 3, 2011

“Tower Heist,” a film that was supposed to be a funny “Ocean’s 11,” had more potential than any other recent comedy. Helmed by “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner and featuring a star-studded cast, “Tower Heist” is the story of a group of luxury apartment building employees who lose their pensions in a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by one of the building’s residents (Alan Alda).

Their plan to steal their money back is very much a story of our times, influenced by the growing disparity and animosity between the haves and have-nots. “Tower Heist” provides the same sort of satisfaction “Inglourious Basterds” does. Hitler wasn’t killed by American commandos and the 99% aren’t breaking into penthouses and taking back what’s theirs, but it is nice to think about.

“Tower Heist” starts off slow, but there are a lot of laughs to be had throughout. Ben Stiller’s performance seems more “Night at the Museum” than “Zoolander” but it’s offset by Eddie Murphy, who is closer to “Beverly Hills Cop” than “Haunted Mansion.”

There are only a few fleeting moments in the film that showcase Murphy and Stiller operating in their classic personas, but those moments are hysterical. Matthew Broderick and Michael Peña also turn in solid performances. The sleeper comedy star is Casey Affleck, who manages to find the perfect tone to deliver the hilarity of a comedy movie and the intensity of an action flick. Gabourey Sidibe of “Precious” also stars.

It isn’t a brilliant movie, but “Tower Heist” is definitely entertaining and in the end, a timely, well-acted and silly story is all the movie-going public really needs.

 

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Tower Heist’

Troy Mathew | Thursday, November 3, 2011

“Tower Heist” tries to get laughs while creating a story in which the working-class underdogs triumph over the greedy Wall Street executive. It fails.

The comedy centers around the employees of a luxury, Central Park condominium, who are shocked to discover their swindling billionaire boss (Alan Alda) has stolen their pensions. Former building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) and local thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) assemble a group of rag-tag building employees to steal their boss’ hidden fortune. The group of thieves endures numerous mishaps in their quest to retrieve the stolen money.

“Tower Heist” has pretenses of timeliness, premiering at a point in history when corporate greed is under heavy scrutiny. However, the characters inspire no sympathy. Even Lester (Stephen Henderson), the jolly doorman turned despondent suicide survivor, lacks development and fails to inspire pity for the victims of the Ponzi scheme.

The movie keeps it together until the execution of the actual heist, at which point the plot falls to pieces. The challenges the characters face during the heist and the solutions they propose are too ridiculous. Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but this movie demands the audience completely turn off their brain.

“Tower Heist” is pretty formulaic in its approach to the heist story — including the obligatory elevator shaft sequence. However, unlike more successful versions of the heist story, the team trying to steal the fortune is not at all convincing. They have relatively few skills that qualify them for such a demanding job. On top of that, they’re dumb. The most laughable example of their behavior is that the group expects $20 million to fit inside a safe the size of a mini-fridge.

The film’s major characters fail to inspire significant laughs, and the film’s minor characters fail to inspire significant sympathy. “Tower Heist,” despite a star-studded cast, is lacking in brains. The film, however, is not boring and is worth seeing if you appreciate less-than-mindless entertainment.