Tower Heist

The studio was probably pretty happy about the timing of this film. It wouldn't have been at all out of place for some of the characters to join in one of the Occupier protests on the side. Heck, even Bernie Madoff is back in the news lately, bragging about how wonderful federal prison is, and old Uncle Bernie must be one of Arthur Shaw's heroes.

Alan Alda is Arthur Shaw, a billionaire investor who lives in the penthouse of The Tower. It's Trump Tower, I guess, since they thank the people there in the end credits, but in any case, it's supposed to be some of the most expensive real estate anywhere. Apartments run about 5.6 million dollars. For this, you get a gorgeous view through floor to ceiling windows, expensive gifts from management on your birthday, and, as Ben Stiller puts it, the undivided attention of staff 24/7.

Ben Stiller, who was one of the voices in Megamind here plays Josh Kovacs, the Tower's general manager, who spends his long, long days fulfilling every whim of the wealthy in his building, many times before the wealthy even ask for it. His brother-in-law, Charlie, played by Casey Affleck of Ocean's Thirteen, is the concierge, though not a terribly good one. He's just not as much of a natural at sucking up as Josh is. Josh is also, however, a nice guy, which naturally doesn't get him very far. When Mr. Fitzhugh, aka Matthew Broderick of The Producers and 30 Rock (a show Alan Alda was also on), loses all his money and is being evicted, Josh does what he can to run interference for him even though he's been ordered by boss Mr. Simon (Judd Hirsch of Numbers) to just get Mr. Fitzhugh out quickly and quietly.

Around about the time new elevator operator Dev’Reaux is hired -- he's played by Michael Peña of Battle Los Angeles -- a small problem appears in the otherwise faultlessly smooth operation of the Tower. No, it isn't that they suddenly realize that even the super-wealthy should be capable of pushing their own elevator buttons. It's that Arthur Shaw, who graciously agreed to take over the handling of the pension funds for the building staff, even though for him it's an absolutely minuscule account, has just been indicted by the FBI for fraud. A Ponzi scheme, basically. The staff is now all broke, from Lester the doorman to Miss Iovenko (Nina Arianda), who keeps saying, in a Ukrainian accent that I could listen to all day, that she has no idea what Josh is talking about whenever he gently points out that she's studying for the bar exam at work.

Josh flips out around then -- I'm not sure about Ben Stiller's acting and never will be, but he does a pretty good job of flipping out -- and manages to get himself, his hapless brother-in-law, and the new elevator operator fired. Shaw is threatening to have Josh arrested. But the FBI agent (Téa Leoni) lets slip that such fraudsters always have a fallback, some stash of cash somewhere, and they haven't found Shaw's yet, a stash estimated at twenty million.

Thus, out of desperation is born a plan. As Josh puts it, they've been casing the building for ten years. They just didn't know it before. One of the maids, Odessa, has hidden skills as a safecracker. (The actress who plays her, Gabourey Sidibe of Precious, was also on The Big C with Alan Alda.) And an old, erm, "friend" of Josh's is now a petty thief. That's Eddie Murphy, of course, of Shrek fame, here playing someone named Slide. No, they don't say where the nickname comes from -- I presume it's a nickname, anyway. He doesn't much like Josh, but the magic words twenty million dollars can overcome a lot of dislike.

After that, it's all the fun chaos you would expect. Slide wears one of Josh's suits and looks awful in it. Snoopy makes a cameo appearance. The hapless Mr. Fitzhugh is recruited to help burgle the place even though he didn't lose any money because of Shaw as far as I can tell. He probably has nothing much better to do, anyway. They even defy the laws of physics, but then, comedies aren't known for their scientific accuracy.

In short (I know, too late), it's a silly but generally fun movie that gets three out of five stars. If it wasn't November, I'd call it a summer action flick, mostly mindless but entertaining just the same. Even the minor players all get at least one fun little scene, which is nice, and for just a little while, I even liked Ben Stiller.

Image: 
A nice cast photo. Would you trust these people to rob you?

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thanks for share!

thanks for share!

nice articles

nice articles

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