Ever since I saw the trailer for Tower Heist, I have been dreading having to screen this movie. It looks unfun, unfunny and poorly written – afterall, it’s a Brett Ratner film. But after sucking it up and going finally seeing it, I was pleasantly surprised. The first act was just as bad as I assumed it would be, but the other two were funny and mindlessly entertaining – and I give all the credit, surprising, to Eddie Murphy.
Tower Heist‘s story is simple. The workers of an upscale apartment building in New York City invested all of their pension’s with the Wall Street tenant who lives in the penthouse. Little did they know it was a Ponzi scheme and that all of their money is gone. As the FBI busts him and remands him to house arrest until trial, a few of the workers take the matter into their own hands and plot to enter his guarded and highly surveilled penthouse, find his suspected $20 million “safety net” and rob him blind.
Because Tower Heist tries establishing each of the building workers’ characters, the first third of the movie is wasted on nonsense. All of the jokes in this period fall flat on their face. Ben Stiller plays the same old uptight character. Casey Affleck plays a bumbling idiot. Gabourey Sidibe plays Precious with a Jamaican accent. Matthew Broderick feels like he’s reading cue cards. Michael Peña plays a stereotyical kid off the street. And Alan Alda plays a typical rich A-hole who doesn’t care about the poor. The only actor who comes in and has fun with her role is Téa Leoni as the leading FBI agent on the case.
But then we get into the second act. Stiller forms a crew of misfit robbers and needs a true criminal to help plot the heist, so he gets Eddie Murphy. I haven’t enjoyed an Eddie Murphy performance since 1999′s Bowfinger. For the first time since then, he shines in a classic Beverly Hills Cop fashion. And every other actor who shares scenes with him rises up to meet his level. Where Broderick mailed in his first scenes, he becomes a hilarious part of the cast after Murphy’s full-time arrival. The last thing I expected from Tower Heist was to laugh with it, not at it.
Unfortunately, being an Ocean’s Eleven rip-off, the story isn’t all that great – especially in the end. The should-be realistic feel of the movie is completely thrown out the window and replaced with dumbed-down sillyness. Forget that the first two thirds of the movie was grounded in reality and step into the world of unbelievable stunts and unexplained events.
If you absolutely must see a movie in theaters this weekend and are capable of shutting your mind off, then you just might enjoy Tower Heist. Even is you end up hating it, you’ll still laugh at good old Eddie Murphy.