Tower Heist

Dollar Up


04 November 2011| No Comments on Tower Heist     by Sean Chavel


The setup and character intros have a fun groove but the second half has major shortcomings. Tower Heist has a great cast, starting with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, but they are not given enough to fly with. Especially with the promise of Murphy as a street smart hustler you expect him to tear it up, but he has maybe two classic scenes and a couple of other small good ones. Matthew Broderick and Casey Affleck are too reluctant as the fellow accomplices on the heist, Gabourey Sidibe has a couple of good one-liners but relegated to just those, and Michael Peña is just too stupid.The big caper is planned half-assed, but when the gang’s plan does go wrong, an atypical if implausible alternative scenario requires the men to maneuver outside the glass windows of the Trump Tower.

The foil in this flick is the usually likeable Alan Alda whose penthouse is the target after he bilked investors in a Ponzi scheme. His character Arthur Shaw is arrested for securities fraud and held under house arrest, but it’s declared a given that Josh Kovacs (Stiller’s character) and his fellow employees will never get paid back on their investments. For newbies to crime, Stiller doesn’t have a whole lot of hard evidence to suggest he would know what to do once he breaks in, but he has the chutzpah.

Kovacs knows fast-talking criminal Slide only fleetingly (hands off to Murphy, doing crazy like it was “Trading Places” or “48 Hours” from his ’80’s movies). But Kovacs thinks Slide is the key to pulling off the caper, but one pauses to ask, does Slide even need these guys for a job he can do himself? Then there’s Affleck as the gang’s skeptic member. When these guys split apart then the movie’s excitement deflates. Then there’s Tea Leoni as the peppery FBI agent whose inconsistency of character is bewildering. Leoni’s character name might as well be An Unhelpful Woman.

The payoff of the movie isn’t really a payoff, either. How do you cash in instruments as a commodity exchange? Director Brett Ratner has this attitude: “I don’t care if anybody in the whole wide world gets smarter from my movies, because I’m playing to the mindless international audiences!” Yeah, it’s a mindless caper movie, but it would have been nice to have a little more wit thrown in, as high-concept as that sounds.

“Tower Heist” is an action caper of shortcuts. And a comedy of shortcuts, too.

104 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “A Fish Called Wanda” (1988), “Bottle Rocket” (1996), “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001), “The Italian Job” (2003).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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