Tower Heist follows a group of apartment employees shafted by their richest resident, Arthur Shaw. Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, the manager of New York's most pricey apartment complex "The Tower." After Shaw gets busted for a Madoff-esq scheme, Kovacs learns that because of him, the pension plans of his employees no longer exist. Assuming some sort of responsibility, Kovacs suits up and becomes a modern day Robin Hood in an effort to steal from the rich and give to the poor.
This is by no means the magnum opus for neither Stiller nor Murphy, but it's entertaining for what it is and there is no better time for this movie to be released. Kovacs and his band of merry men represent those who have felt the impact of economic inequality and have fallen on hardships as a result. The difference is that these victims decide to do something a little more drastic than their picketing counterparts and instead take initiative to get even and steal back what's rightfully theirs.
No, the Occupy protesters haven't all fallen victim to Ponzi schemes, but watching five half-witted thieves try to pull off an elaborate New York City heist is a humorous concept for everyone, except maybe Bernie Madoff. That said, this isn't one of film's great capers - it's no Ocean's 11 or even The Italian Job - but it appeals to a lot of disgruntled people who wish they could get a piece of the pie. But as Stiller pointed out to Piers Morgan the other night, this is a timeless concept and even if we weren't in a time of economic trouble, Tower Heist would still be appealing and entertaining to audiences, because it makes you laugh.
The buzz for this movie has been centered on its references to Madoff along with the Occupy movement and its impeccable timing with our economic woes, but it is a comedy first and foremost. Even if we'd never heard of Bernie Madoff, this film would still appeal to audiences.
This is the funniest Stiller has been since Tropic Thunder and the cast as a whole plays off each other very well. From down-on-his-luck Matthew Broderick to burger-flipping Michael Pena, they all play their part in this simply fun heist movie. Eddie Murphy generated some laughs, but didn't quite play the prominent role depicted in the previews, which is unfortunate. This was also a chance for Murphy to step out of the realm of kid's movies and back into the adult content and give us the glimpse of Axel Foley or Reggie Hammond that many of us are so desperately looking for. Murphy, however, did say recently that he takes credit for the main premise of the movie, specifically the disgruntled employees ripping off their place of work. With such originality, who wouldn't want to take credit?
While its timing is apt, Tower Heist is a simple feel-good revenge movie that sticks up for the little guy without getting too political or straightforward. Take it for what it is: a silly heist movie where the peasants battle royalty brought to you by an A-list cast.
Starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck and Matthew Broderick
Directed by Brett Ratner