The latest Brett Ratner Film, Tower Heist is a mixed bag. Its heist isn’t as predictable as one would expect, but the comedy is just as bad as one would expect. Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead a cast of misfits in a harmless film that pokes at the rich people while allowing us middle class civilians a chance at feeling special and important. It puts the power in the hands of the worker bees, but it doesn’t venture too far away from the beaten path resulting in just another Brett Ratner film with a hint of potential. It’s not an incredible waste of time, but I wouldn’t call it a great film by any means.
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the manager of The Tower, a wealthy penthouse of sorts that houses one of the richest men in the world, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Shaw seems like one of those honest rich people that actually appreciate the people working tirelessly under him. Guys like Josh and his friend Charlie (Casey Affleck) both put up with the daily grind just to collect an honest paycheck, but that all changes when Shaw tries fleeing from a Ponzi scheme that’s taken a lot of peoples cash, including everyone that worked for him.
Josh and Charlie decide to setup the perfect robbery in order to get everyone’s money back. Josh begins to put together a team that consists of a safe cracking maid, Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), a former resident of the Tower Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), an idiot elevator operation named Enrique (Michael Pena) and finally the thief who claims to have experience in the field, Slide (Eddie Murphy). The team stakes out the building and sets up a plan to steal Mr. Shaw’s alleged $40 million dollars that he has hidden away somewhere in his penthouse suite.
Things get tricky when a local FBI agent named Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) steps in. With the help of his friends Josh must distract the agent and the rest of the workers at The Tower in order for this planned heist to be a success. Tower Heist mixes a little heist with a little comedy and ends up coming out as something watchable. It’s not the next Oceans film by any means, but it works in some areas a lot better than others.
Tower Heist surprisingly works best as a heist film. It’s actually a clever film, heist wise, up until the ending, where it takes a turn for the less believable. With heist films you can’t always bring logic to the table, but sometimes there are things you just can’t ignore or set aside for enjoyment. Tower Heist does a good job of keeping you guessing, but it loses steam during its final reveal, which is a giant step in the wrong direction.
The comedy is what drags the film, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering the talent Ratner assembled here. Guys like Ben Stiller and Casey Affleck are obviously in it for the quick paycheck and easy filming, but Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick manage to channel some past humor and deliver most of the funny jokes. A lot of stuff falls really flat and that’s thanks to Affleck and Stiller. It’s not offensively bad or anything; Tower Heist is just a light heist comedy with simple intentions.
Brett Ratner hasn’t been known for making perfect films, but most of his work is funny on a surface level. He knows how to get the easy jokes across well and it works for most audiences, but people looking for anything more will walk away disappointed. The comedy never reaches new levels, but it is mildly entertaining for most of its running time. It’s quick and for the most part painless, thanks to Murphy’s over the top black man stereotyping and Broderick’s quiet loose cannon approach that proves to be comical during the heist parts.
Nitpicking will eventually ruin Tower Heist though. You can spot a dozen of imperfections and it’s how you choose to accept them that will determine your enjoyment. Things like Ben Stiller‘s horrible New York accent will have to be dismissed in order for this film to work. I wasn’t as easy on it as others, but I was honestly surprised by how much I found myself enjoying the middle portion of it. It starts off slow with tons of dud jokes, but once Murphy bursts onto the screen and the heist starts taking center stage it becomes a whole other monster. It starts to tone down the stupid jokes and make room for some more clever stuff, while easing in an actual story that makes sense. It sidetracks into a few emotional cues that could have been left on the cutting room floor, but those are only minor complaints.
Tower Heist builds up steam and starts to be an amusing heist/thriller, but then the final moments, the most important part of any heist film gets wasted on a cheap solution that undermines the whole setup. It cheapens the film and it does it in a very Brett Ratner fashion and by that I mean it dumbs the film down to the simplest form. It goes from clever heist film to a chewable feel good comedy that’s not really funny, but tries to be. The heist no longer feels important during the last few minutes and that’s when it completely loses me.
Still, there were things that worked incredibly well, things that even I wasn’t expecting and those things helped pull it out of the garbage. I can see myself enjoying Tower Heist a lot more in the comfort of my own home, but there isn’t much to be enjoyed in theaters. It’s not worth your $10 dollars, it really isn’t. There are plenty of better heist films in existence and much funnier comedies. The cast never fully clicks, only certain characters truly shine. The comedy isn’t the greatest and the heist aspect gets lazy. Tower Heist is a second run film, something that can be enjoyed at a later time when there isn’t really anything else to watch. It’s better than the trailers make it out to be, but it’s still not a great movie.
Tower Heist – 6.5/10