Courtesy of TOWER HEIST
Originally intended as “Ocean’s Eleven” with an all-black cast, then changed into a standard heist comedy once actor Ben Stiller got involved, “Tower Heist” has seen its share of controversy.
When Universal announced that it would be available for on-demand viewing only three weeks after being released in theaters, some cinema chains such as Cinemark and Emagine Theaters boycotted the movie for exhibition.
While Universal backed down under pressure, this movie is certainly not cause for controversy as it is a generic heist comedy directed by a generic director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour” series, “X3: The Last Stand”).
Josh Kovacs (Stiller) is the building manager at the Tower, a fancy Columbus Circle apartment complex owned by billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, essentially doing a Bernie Madoff impression).
When the FBI indicts Shaw in a Ponzi scheme, Kovacs learns that Shaw swiped the pension plans of all the complex’s employees, including Kovacs himself.
Determined to get back the $20 million that Shaw has hidden in his safe, Kovacs assembles some of the employees, as well as a thief from his neighborhood, Slide (Eddie Murphy), to break in and steal the money.
With big name actors like Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick and Gabourey Sidibe teaming up alongside Stiller, it might be expected that they could rise above the generic script and be funny.
Unfortunately, their roles fit into boring, unappealing archetypes: the anxious concierge (Affleck), the Yale-educated investor forced to live on the streets (Broderick) and the Jamaican lockpick, complete with an accent (Sidibe.)
The film surprisingly feels mean-spirited, and the one time it tries to inject heart by having Kovacs help Lester, the Tower’s retired doorman (Stephen Henderson, “Law and Order”), it falls flat on its face.
If there’s any small triumph on the film’s part, it is the return of Murphy into the type of comedic role that he was famous for in “Coming to America” and the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, instead of the family-friendly dreck like “Meet Dave” or tasteless pieces such as “Norbit.” As a professional thief, Murphy’s banter and dialogue between him and Stiller is snappy and hilarious.
Yet even Murphy can’t save this bore of a film as the actual heist itself is surprisingly boring and predictable in execution. “Tower Heist” is an average film, even with Murphy possibly making a comeback.