DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
TOWER HEIST (director: Brett Ratner; screenwriters: Ted Griffin/Jeff Nathanson/based on a story by Ted. Griffin, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage; cinematographer: Dante Spinotti; editor: Mark Helfrich; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Ben Stiller (Josh Kovaks), Eddie Murphy (Slide), Casey Affleck (Charlie Gibbs), Alan Alda (Arthur Shaw), Matthew Broderick (Mr. Fitzhugh), Téa Leoni (Special Agent Claire Denham), Judd Hirsch (Mr. Simon), Michael Peña (Dev’Reaux), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lester), Gabourey Sidibe (Odessa), Juan Carlos Hernández (Manual), Marcia Jean Kurtz (Rose), Nina Arianda (Miss Iovenko, lawyer); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Brian Grazer/Kim Roth/Eddie Murphy; Universal Pictures; 2011)

"Time killer passable entertainment."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Time killer passable entertainment that benefits greatly from a crowd-pleasing timely plotline and a terrific Alan Alda as the villainous sleazebag crooked Wall Street financier. Mediocre director Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour 3"/" X-Men: The Last Stand"/"After the Sunset") pulls off this fluff comedy by playing it safe in a compromising agreeable way with mild comic bits on class differences and plenty of physical comedy during the caper, but never shooting for the kind of anarchy and subversive excitement this pic deserved if it wanted to be thought of as art. But it should provide mild laughter for the undemanding viewer, or the middle-class workers still reeling from the financial market collapse and from perhaps those victimized or in sympathy with the vics of ruthless Ponzi schemers like the heartless Bernard Madoff. It's based on a story by Ted. Griffin, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, and is written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson.

The caper comedy is set in the luxury condo building named The Tower, that overlooks New York’s Central Park. Oily billionaire investment maven Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) lives in the well-serviced penthouse for the last ten years. When he's suddenly arrested for security fraud and placed under house arrest, the staff workers are shocked to find that their pension funds invested with him in secret by their well-meaning boss, the building's general manager Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller), who fell for Shaw's pitch that he can triple their investment, has been totally lost.

The guilt-stricken Josh befriends FBI agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni ) and learns from the sympathetic arresting officer that there's no chance of the little guys getting back the money they lost as the banks, the big boys and the corporations come first in the collection process. With that Josh uses the info that the FBI believes the crook is hiding some $20 million in his apartment and teams up with a few of the hotel staff -- the Jamaican locksmith housekeeper (Gabourey Sidibe), the eager-beaver newly hired elevator operator (Michael Peña), the nervous inept concierge (Casey Affleck), the beloved retiring doorman (Stephen McKinley Henderson) who lost his life savings besides the pension, the unemployed honest timid Wall Street trader and evicted tower tenant (Matthew Broderick), and a trash-talking black professional thief to coach these amateurs (Eddie Murphy)-- to rob Shaw's hidden stash during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when they get Shaw out of the pad on a pretext.

There was no way to take any of this seriously and the last half of the film could have been better executed, or at least better thought out, but there are laughs along the way and as escapism entertainment for the masses it passes muster.

REVIEWED ON 11/6/2011       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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