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Tower Heist (2011)

November 16, 2011

6/10 Penthouse Paupers

Brett Ratner made a good movie. If that’s not a sign of the coming apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

Tower Heist is about the loyal staff of a high-rise hotel that looks an awful lot like the Trump Plaza in NYC. Everything’s going swell for the loyal staff, but then one day they find out that the owner of the building has been busted in a Ponzi scheme, which means that all their pensions are now worth jack crap. With nothing to lose and payback on his mind, the manager of the hotel gets the staff together and recruits a small-time crook from his childhood to break into the owner’s high-security suite in the hopes of stealing the owner’s multi-million dollar safety net. Being that none of them know a damn thing about pulling off a heist or where the safety net is, they go through with it anyway and hope for the best.

Before I even bought a ticket, there were a lot of reasons why I was fully prepared to shit all over this thing. It’s directed by Brett Ratner, and it’s common knowledge that Brett Ratner has long been one of the biggest hacks in Hollywood. It stars Eddie Murphy, and he’s why Norbit happened. It also stars Ben Stiller, and not only do I still hate Meet the Parents, but I think the last time he really got a laugh out of me was when Jon Voight almost plugged him with a pickaxe. And then there was the brutally unfunny trailer, and that was all I needed to write this off and further the hate.

So why did I see it? Well, kids, sometimes grown-ups drink beers, and every once in a while, that leads grown-ups to make decisions they normally wouldn’t have had they been drinking, say, SunnyD on the rocks. So in lieu of making it to last call, my friend and I made our way to the theater. Since the options start to dwindle by 10:30 PM, we could either pay $17 to watch Harold and Kumar whack Santa Claus in the third dimension, or listen to the unusually positive Tomatometer and give $13 to Brett-freaking-Ratner. Being the cheapskate I am and not wanting to test my 3D vision without testing my BAC first, we went with the latter. And shockingly enough, it totally paid off.

Since it’s a Brett Ratner movie, you can safely assume that you won’t need a brain to follow what’s happening. This isn’t Heat, this isn’t Inception, this is a big-budget excuse to eat popcorn, watch a sports car hang outside of a skyscraper, and watch A-listers say goofy shit. It takes itself seriously in the sense that there isn’t a soul on Earth who doesn’t have it out for Bernie Madoff these days or wouldn’t love to see the untouchable 1% get their comeuppance, and it totally works on that level. It doesn’t take itself very seriously in every other aspect, and that was a very good call. As far as writing and directing is concerned, I wouldn’t look for it in the Criterion Collection, but what you expect is pretty much what you get. The laughs are more successful than not and the plot is kooky enough to keep things interesting, and that’s enough.

But the big question of the hour is whether or not this is the comeback that Eddie Murphy’s career has been after since he started dabbling in fat suits and tranny hookers? The answer to that question: hopefully. The hope comes from the fact that he’s easily one of the highlights here and this is a welcome reminder that Murphy still has the potential to be funny. The hesitation comes from the fact that few careers have nosedived so epically in the public eye like Murphy’s has over the years and one step in the right direction isn’t enough to make us forget about all those steps back. If someone missed the toilet bowl every time they went to the bathroom, I don’t think anyone would throw a freakin’ parade over the one time they hit a bulls-eye. This isn’t Axel Foley we’re talking about, it’s not Donkey either, but it’s nice to see Murphy getting back to what he’s best at instead of making some more God-awful shit to impress his kids.

And while we’re on the subject of comebacks, where the hell did Matthew Broderick come from? Sure, he had The Producers going for him a few years back, not to mention one of the best cameos in the first season of Louie, but Election was 12 years ago and he hasn’t had too many movies to write home about since. But here he is in Tower Heist, a movie that no one is seeing because he’s in it, and he had me cracking up more than any of his co-stars, Murphy included. He plays a Wall Street investor who lost all his money and was in the process of getting evicted from the tower when the owner got cuffed, and there’s something about watching him play this “Fuck my life” guy whose always got the most deadpan, depressing answer for any random question that really worked like gangbusters. Surprised more people aren’t giving him his due after this, but then again, he’s not the one who did Pluto Nash.

Going off of the cast, the main problem with this movie isn’t so much who’s in it, but rather how many people are in it. There’s an excess amount of Ben Stiller, and since there’s, oh, two dozen other people backing him up in roles that vary from relatively integral to “That’s it?,” I really wish the screen-time had gotten divvied up better. There’s not enough Murphy, there’s not enough Broderick, and there’s not enough Gabourey Sidibe either. You know what? There’s never enough Gabourey Sidibe. That girl kicks ass. Wouldn’t be so bad if Ben Stiller is the one element of this movie that was as disappointing as I expected it to be, but it’s his own damn fault for whipping out his Mr. Furious shtick in every damn thing he signs up for.

Folks, finding an excuse to rag on a Brett Ratner movie is like looking for sand in the desert. If I ever get around to reviewing After the Sunset, I’ll go into further detail, but today I’m gonna bite my tongue. Tower Heist isn’t great by any means, but I can’t deny that I had fun, I was entertained, and I laughed more than I was prepared to. I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t believe it, and everyone I talk to about it can’t believe it either. In all honesty, I was very close to giving this a 7, but I’m still torn as to whether that credit goes to the movie itself or the booze that aided it. Maybe next time, Brett…as long as it’s not Rush Hour 4.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. mojo permalink
    November 16, 2011 7:08 am

    I specifically saw this movie because Matt Broderick was in it….great job and I hope this is a reminder to people of how good his comedic timing really is….I actually thought Stiller was pretty good for a change. Murphy is Murphy, and you either like him or you don’t. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good movie.

    • November 16, 2011 11:36 am

      Stiller was way too stale for me, and I hate the way he got when he was smashing the car with the golf club. SO annoying. Definitely an upgrade for Murphy, now we just have to see if he sticks with it. I agree, a pretty good movie, better than I thought it would be.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. November 16, 2011 10:19 am

    The cast was funny and I was very surprised by how I liked this considering all Ratner does is make really crappy movies, where the cast is impressive but also wasted. Still, no matter how good this film is, I’m glad he isn’t producing the Oscars this year but I do wish Murphy was hosting them still. Either way, good review Aiden. BTW don’t check out After the Sunset. To sum it up shortly: it blows.

    • November 16, 2011 11:32 am

      Thanks! And, yeah, really glad he’s not producing the Oscars either, but would have liked to have seen Murphy.

      And will continue to avoid After the Sunset, as long as I don’t go on one of those Let’s Review the Worst Movies Ever Made streaks again.

  3. November 16, 2011 9:52 pm

    Yes, but everything looks better with beer goggles on. I wonder how it would have looked to you the next morning if you’d seen it again.

    • November 18, 2011 2:27 pm

      Hahaha. Exactly why it didn’t get a 7. Was probably the best way to go into that movie, helped me forget the faults.

  4. November 17, 2011 11:35 pm

    Goofy indeed – but still subsequently hilarious.

    So… big Ratner advocate I see?

  5. whatever permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:20 pm

    This “might” be a good movie. …….dunno
    I watched the “interview” with the cast on cable………… gawd; you all looked like you were trying to be the “star” of the dang interview. (That’s putting it nicely.)

    Southern accent and spelling(s) on purpose.

    Great stars in the movie; but there is some kind “rift” among you. It “blares” throughout the entire interview.

    Anyhoo………after watching that……..don’t know if I’ll watch the movie.

    Get a grip on your egos!

    • December 12, 2011 10:42 am

      Hahaha. I know the interview you’re talking about, and I hear ya’. Not a whole lot of chemistry going on.

      Worth a rental, I recommend drinking beforehand.


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