Opening 3 Nov 2011
Writing credits: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Principal actors: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick
A PR agency couldn’t have planned it better. Tower Heist premiers right in the middle of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This action comedy set in New York City pits the little guys (some of the 99%) against a corrupt Wall Street billionaire Arthur Shaw (definitely one of the 1%) after losing their pensions in his Ponzi scheme. (A touch of Bernie Madoff perhaps – Arthur, like Bernie, is also from Queens.) When the employees of a luxurious high-rise Central Park condominium The Tower discover they have been swindled, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), the building manager, concocts a plan for revenge. He convinces his brother-in-law Charlie (Casey Affleck), the building concierge; Chase Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a bankrupt former Wall Street investor and ex-resident of The Tower; a bellhop, Dev'reaux (Michael Peña); and a maid, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) to join him. These rookie thieves need help, so Josh turns to Slide (Eddie Murphy), a small time crook who Josh had first met as a young boy when they were in Day Care in Queens together. Not that Slide recognizes him, not that Slide has ever had much experience with big time crime. (He gives his accomplices a lesson in how to pick a lock with a bobby pin.) The 1% man, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), has been placed under house arrest by the FBI special agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) in his condo at the top of The Tower. Claire confides to Josh that all of the two billion dollars Shaw has stolen from his investors have vanished into thin air, or (wink, wink), have they? The fun is watching these amateur burglars break into Shaw’s sumptuous penthouse to reclaim what he took from the Tower employees, the 99 %ers.
For those expecting a boost in their testosterone levels, there are Shaw’s bright red 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso and the elaborate bone-chilling stunts involved in heisting the car. Those seeking a comedy scene-stealer will appreciate Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe, star of Precious), the maid who goes rogue. For sentimentalists looking for a New York tradition, there is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Those anticipating a good musical score will have to look elsewhere; the soundtrack is merely a recycling of Mission Impossible tracts. Finally, those seeking big name actors will not be disappointed. Director Brett Ratner must be commended for engaging an impressive all-star cast to appear in his movie. (Pat Frickey)