The audience won’t feel swindled after seeing “Tower Heist”


The kind-hearted Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) prepares for work at Manhattan’s most exclusive luxury apartment building by making a move on a virtual chess game while quickly making breakfast and listening to a foodie radio host give advice on wine and cheese pairings. It is obvious that he’s quick and smart, when he expertly repeats the wine advice to a resident, Wall Street wizard Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Shaw is quick to acknowledge Kovac’s wine advice, then smugly informs Kovacs that their chess game has ended. Kovacs takes the news of his defeat in stride, his job is to make the residents feel comfortable and pampered, and to allow them to believe they are superior, after all. Not too much different than your job really. Unlike your boss, Kovacs expertly leads a team of diverse and well-coiffed staff, who seem content to cater to the needs of the one percent, until they are duped.

Alda is immediately dislikable as Shaw, so it is no surprise when he’s revealed as a charlatan who’s squandered the staff’s pension fund.  And when FBI agent Claire Denham (Teo Leoni) admits to Kovacs that they’ve been unable to find Shaw’s suspected stash of cash, the audience is ready for the payback.

The concierge (Casey Affleck), elevator operator (Michael Pena) and Kovacs may know the building, but they know nothing about stealing so they acquire an actual thief, Slide (Eddie Murphy), maid/safe cracker (Gabourey Sidibe) and foreclosed homeowner, former Merrill Lynch investment banker and Yale grad Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) who, well, really doesn’t have anything else to do.  This fantastic cast brings both physical comedy and well delivered lines to this film. Murphy has an opportunity to display his chameleon like character creating ability, but the strong cast prevents it from becoming the Eddie Murphy show. Sidibe certainly has a future with more comedic roles.

Directed by Brett Rattner (Rush Hour) the film was shot in New York, focused on the luxury apartment building. In sharp contrast, we also see the neighborhood where Kovacs and Slide have resided since childhood, and Shaw outgrew. In addition to Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s foodie radio show in the opening scene there are many more cameos.  They are there to remind us that this is not a serious heist movie, it’s just a funny little caper, with a sweet doorman named Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson) that you’ll fall in love with.

The economy is bad enough that most can relate to this film: watching your retirement savings evaporate before your eyes, suddenly finding yourself with no health insurance through no fault of your own, or the nagging feeling that you are waaaaaay smarter than that asshole with millions while your management position is little more than being a well dressed waiter.  Don’t worry about how much a car weighs, or that it is far more likely that Josh Kovacs would be sucking an inhaler than scaling a cable 500 feet in the air. Laugh. Don’t over think it. And enjoy some sweet revenge. And if you are lucky enough to have a job, go back to work on Monday, and kiss the appropriate ass so you can keep it.

Run Time:  104 minutes.  Rated PG-13

Grade:  B-

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2 thoughts on “The audience won’t feel swindled after seeing “Tower Heist”

  1. Rita – I love your enthusiasm! First, I must say, I have been a bit apprehensive about seeing this film, but maybe now I’ll be giving it a shot!

    As for Sidibe, I really hope she doesn’t get regulated to comedies because from what I’ve seen and what the Academy saw was a magnificent dramatic portrayal in “Precious.” I think she just has a future in acting – which is a great thing.

    And as far as that goin’ back to work and kissin’ ass, I’m not a believer in ass-kissin’ – I’m a believer in a great work-ethic and if I’m not treated right then I say kiss mine! :o)

  2. Hey Rita, thank you for the review.

    Indeed a great cast of really well established and accomplished actors and this often runs the risk of them tripping over themselves and each other looking for the lime light. It seems, however that in this case it all works well which is a tribute to the production crew and directorship and not least of all the team approach that it takes to deliver a quality product.

    I’m not super keen on Eddie Murphy because I find him a major try hard but I am a huge fan of the extremely versatile and talented stage & screen presence of Matthew Broderick.

    I tend to avoid “comedies” at times for fear of the let down effect because it’s just so damn hard to get it right but in this case I may just give it a watch.

    Kissing my own arse may be a difficult task but I will have fun trying……’til Monday…..adieu

    ~Paulie~

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