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Star - Ben Stiller & Eddie Murphy
Genre - Comedy
Certificate - PG13
Run Time - 104 minutes
Country - USA
Blockbuster Rental- £0.99p per night
Awards - 0
Amazon -£3.00 DVD (£10.22p Blue Ray)
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So what did go wrong with Eddie Murphy? After the Beverly Hills franchise ended in the mid nineties he has done little of note since, one of the great career collapses in Hollywood history. He was the king of comedy as the eighties ended yet had such a short time at the top compared to others of his talent and standing. 'Life', an underrated serious comedy was the last film I enjoyed him in and I haven't watched much Murphy since because it's been so bad. He just stopped being brave. I think it went wrong because he started doing all those family comedies where he dressed up as various characters when he was still a very funny adult comedy star, dumbing down to the lowest common denominator to chase the dollar too early. In hindsight he should have done all that stuff later on in his career when it was expected, like Steve Martin and Robin Williams did. Some say it was his evangelic wish to see more black actors and back room people working in Hollywood that alienated him in Hollywood as he would often operate all black sets to give people of color a foot up, admirable but seen as anti Hollywood then by the powerful unions. Whatever it was, his Tower Heist turn is more of the same lame burnt out comedy we have come to hate him for, almost coming full circle as he all but reanimates his wise ass Reggie Hammond character here from 48 Hours.
Tower Heist is an Eddie Murphy script and idea, one he had been hawking for a while, becoming viable when the financial crisis broke, adapting the script around the Bernie Maddoff scandal when Brett Rattner climbed on board. You get the feeling he thought this would get him back on top, back in that penthouse suit in the said Tower block.
= = = Cast = = =
Ben Stiller ... Josh Kovaks
Eddie Murphy ... Slide
Casey Affleck ... Charlie
Alan Alda ... Arthur Shaw
Matthew Broderick ... Mr. Fitzhugh
Stephen Henderson ... Lester
Judd Hirsch ... Mr. Simon
Téa Leoni ... Special Agent Claire Denham
Michael Peña ... Enrique Dev'Reaux
Gabourey Sidibe ... Odessa
Nina Arianda ... Miss Iovenko
Marcia Jean Kurtz ... Rose
Juan Carlos Hernández ... Manuel
= = = The Plot = = =
Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller) is the floor manager of an expensive apartment block in Manhattan, the 70 storey tower on the edge of Central Park and home to all manner of eccentric characters and millionaires. He runs a tight ship and his staff respect and look up to him, as the guests rely on him as a concierge. But life is about to change for the worse for most of them when the super rich man that owns the top floor penthouse, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), is arrested by the FBI for securities fraud. Not only has he allegedly ripped off thousands of investors but was given the hotel workers pension fund a while back by a trusting Josh to invest.
FBI Special Agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) decides on house arrest for Shaw after his lawyers get the head start on throwing the charges out. But when Josh loses it when he realizes the arrogant millionaire probably is guilty and has stolen their entire pension fund, he is sacked by building manager Mr. Simon (Judd Hirsch) for smashing up Shaw's rare Ferrari, which is placed in the centre of his penthouse suit.
With no job or pension fund Josh comes up with a crazy idea to steal a fortune they think is hidden in that Penthouse in a secret safe, cash and valuables Shaw has been hiding away for just this emergency. The desperate plan now for Josh is to get up a posse of disgruntled workers, which includes a now destitute evicted client (Matthew Broderick) and local hood Slide (Eddie Murphy) to rob that heavily guarded safe.
= = = Results = = =
Its ok but no more, as three - out - of - five as you can get. Its not one of those dreadful screwball comedies or dumb humorless efforts we have become used to from America but it never really reaches the heights of the tower block in question and very much a tame family Ratner comedy, what he is known for. It tries hard to keep you onside and liking all the upbeat characters and with its exorbitant $75 million budget it looks good and moves well. But there are no belly laughs and the crime caper humor gentle and not really testing, almost as if they have ripped out all the best and naughty jokes so not to offend the various groups who attend test screenings.
Stiller is as likeable and charming as ever and the plot silly and formulaic, hardly tough social comment on the financial collapse. A not so fresh faced Eddie Murphy tries hard to relive those glorious jive talking days with his streetwise criminal character Slide but it's almost pathetic on screen as you can see his heart is not in it and that part of his life he thinks will save his career is over.
It did a healthy $152 million box-office and so not so bad but not enough wonga for a sequel, the unexpected hit The Hangover setting the benchmark of what is expected now from this type of comedy if that one can do $450 million. I think Tower Heist was made out of affection and the twang of nostalgia by Ratner for those big budget American comedies of the 80s, with the likes of Mathew Broderick, Judd Hirsch (Taxi) and Murphy on board aiming this at an older viewer than the date crowd. But it was just too timid for me with not enough venom towards Wall Street and ended up a comic Oceans 12 meets movie for the masses. It just needed some belly laughs. As one film critic succinctly put it: ...'acceptable bit of B-minus work from a C student'.
= = = = RATINGS = = = =
Imdb.com - 6.2/10.0 (71,300 votes)
Metacrtic.com - 59% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - % critic's approval
= = = = Critics = = = =
The Star -'Not entirely cringeworthy'.
Film.com -'Made me laugh and held my interest more than it should have, given how sloppy it is. Call it an acceptable bit of B-minus work from a C student.
USA Today -'Tower Heist feigns being an Ocean's 11 for schmucks, but plays like a retread of 48 Hours'.
The New York Post -'Tower Heist is too much fun too dislike. It may not be the smartest or even the funniest film of the year, but it does feature one very entertaining ensemble that makes for a great ride.
The Sun - 'The presence of an almost sleepwalking Eddie Murphy as a motor mouth criminal simply adds to the sense of resources neglected
The Movie News -'Cheerfully crappy schlock'.
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**FILM ONLY REVIEW**
Tower Heist is an unusual film, as I expected it to be a satire or spoof of Ocean's Eleven or other celebrity-laden heist movies, and to an extent it is influenced by those movies, but it never feels like a direct parody.
Ben Stiller, plays Josh Kovaks, a general manager at The Tower, a prestigious New York hotel/apartment complex that houses some of the highest rollers in town. He had a hard-working, if slightly quirky, crew that work alongside him in the Tower, including his brother-in-law, Charlie, played by Casey Affleck. When one of the tenants is revealed as a fraudster, who Kovaks mistakenly invested his whole staff's pension plan into, Josh begins to develop a daring scheme to rob the penthouse apartment of his workplace and return the rightful money to its owners.
Eddie Murphy and Matthew Broderick co-star in very amusing roles. Murphy plays the "expert" thief who Kovaks turns to when devising his plan to rob the penthouse and Matthew Broderick plays an uptight and broke former-banker, a character that is miles apart from his iconic turn as Ferris Bueller, the cock-sure chancer who famously took a 'Day Off'.
Alan Alda features as the investment fraudster who becomes the target for the gang's heist. He manages to play the character with a great deal of ambiguity, where you aren't quite sure whether he is a victim or completely hoodwinking everyone into believing he is a nice, old man.
The film did suffer from an odd pacing - it seemed that there was a lot of set-up and exposition in order to lead the characters to the point where they would consider the heist, then a further act showcasing their attempts to train and learn the skills. The actual heist, which one would assume to be the bulk of the movie, seemed to go by too quickly and without half as many hitches and problems as I would have expected. Unlike Ocean's Eleven, these aren't professional con-men, so there were a few hiccups, but there weren't enough moments of actual tension during the actual heist scenes, compared to other movies of the same genre, where something is about to go wrong at any given moment.
I had a few quibbles with the ending, which I won't spoil, but certain scenes aren't shown to preserve the element of surprise and misdirect the viewer, but this ends up leaving questions on how the cast managed to wrap up some of the loose ends, which feels like lazy writing.
I did enjoy the film and while I wouldn't be one that I re-watch any time soon, I do recommend it as a counter to the typical heist movie and to fans of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. It is a perfectly enjoyable Saturday night movie, which is not only fun, but relatively kid-friendly as well. Eddie Murphy's character may use some bad language, but there is no violence or sexual content, although it may promote daring displays of thievery...
[This Review may also appear on Ciao.co.uk under the same username]
Ben Stiller is one of my favourite comedy actors and I have been catching up on some of his more recent, although less praised, films and today I am reviewing Tower Heist which was released towards the end of 2011. It is also the first film I am watching in a while with Eddie Murphy and his career had been sinking to new lows in recent years. A far cry from the fresh young actor making Hollywood hits such as Coming to America and the Nutty Professor.
After all the workers at the Tower are swindled out of their money from the man who owns the tower, the building manager decides to exact revenge by robbing the wealthy owner and returns the money back to the victims.
Ben Stiller - Josh Kovaks
Eddie Murphy - Slide
Casey Affleck - Charlie
Alan Alda - Arthur Shaw
Matthew Broderick - Mr. Fitzhugh
To be honest I wasn't expecting a lot, and although I am a fan of Ben Stiller, I can still admit his comedy had started to get a little dry. However I was very pleasantly surprised. It isn't laugh out loud funny apart from a couple of scenes, but it does keep you entertained and amused enough throughout the entire film.
The film really takes off to another level however when Eddie Murphy arrives. He is at his fast talked best that Chris Tucker clearly aspires to be like, and it was like the Eddie Murphy of old. His dialogue scenes with Ben Stiller were excellent and very funny. Also the banter between all the main characters held up quite well. I did think Ben Stiller tried to add an emotional aspect to the film that I hadn't seen from him in many years. He is very good at making you feel sorry for him and such is the case here.
In terms of the plot it is very basic, but this is expected. If you go in expecting The Prestige or The Godfather, then you will be very disappointed. Take it for what it is, a light hearted comedy from one of the seasoned veterans in the comedy game. Not it isn't perfect but if you don't smile at least once when Eddie Murphy is blabbing away then you are simply heartless.
I'd heard a lot of good things about this film from my friend at work and to be honest I had it in my amazon wishlist for purchase but there were other films with more priority that I wanted to buy so I hadn't yet got round to it. Recently, when it came on Sky Movies recently I made sure to record it so saving myself a good £5 I could watch it on tv at my leisure. This evening I finally sat down to watch it, and I am really glad I did!
- Plot -
The film revolves around 'The Tower' - a posh high rise apartment building filled with rich and wealthy tenants. Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs the manager of the building. It emerges that one of the Tenants - Mr Arthur Shaw is being investigated for securities fraud and is to stand trial as it is believed he swindled the banks out of money. Kovacs then admits to his staff at the Tower that he gave their entire pension fund for him to manage, and in light of the going ons, they of course all are pretty annoyed with him! When the doorman Lester tries to commit suicide after it transpires he also gave his life savings to Shaw to invest, Stiller loses his temper, and with the concierge and the new lift porter they storm Shaw's penthouse and he vents his rage by smashing up his prized possession - a car previously belonging to Steve McQueen. This then ends with them all losing their jobs. Not one to take this lightly, Stiller then decides to call together a crew including his friend "Slide" ((Murphy) to plot a heist of the Tower and rob Mr Shaw of what they think is rightfully theirs.
- My Opinion -
The film starts quite comically, and I liked that it was actually a more serious, yet still funny variety of one Ben Stiller's movies. His age is evident as he has grey hair, and even his chase scenes he looks quite aged and rigid but I still thought he had his funny persona about him which I liked. Murphy also looked rather old and was a bit more annoying as he came across as a bit of a grandpa trying to play this young gangster crook - it just didn't seem him! Nonetheless together they were actually really funny, as comedians at the complete opposite ends of the comedy spectrum and so I think this film gave a bit for everyone. I did feel Eddie Murphy only had a prominent role much later in the film, and up to that point my face wasn't smiling too much, apart from the odd giggle in my head, so the first 40mins or so more sets the scene rather than providing any funny entertainment.
The highlight of the film was definitely some classic one liners like "Here's your punk a** bobby pin, now go pick the lock!" and "Everyone go steal something worth $50, and leave your wallets here I don't want you cheating and you pay for it and say you stole it" lol!
- Overall -
This is a decent film, that did give me a good laugh here and there which is more than I can say for most "comedies" these days. It isn't the best film ever, so I am glad I watched it on TV and didn't shell out the money (or equivalent of an amazon voucher lol) for buying the DVD but if I was to see a trailer for a new movie with Stiller and Murphy together I would definitely watch it again as I think they do make a really funny duo. The DVD can be bought on amazon for £4.75 for those who may still want to buy it :)
Without meaning to be disrespectful to Eddie Murphy, seeing him playing anyone other than the Donkey in Shrek nowadays is more likely to make me not want to watch a film, after the spate of silly fat suit films and those with talking animals, he returns to a fast talking role as a career criminal in Tower Heist, a film I watched with utter apprehension that turned out to actually be pretty good fun.
Directed by Brent Ratner of the Rush Hour Series, this film stars Ben Stiller as Josh Kovacs, Manager of an incredibly exclusive New York appartment block, he treats all tenants with unbounded respect and manages all of their needs, however one day he discovers the depths of his trust of the tenants may have been misplaced. Following the arrest of Mr Shaw (Alan Alda, clearly enjoying himself), the owner of the buildings penthouse for banking embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, Josh has to tell all the buildings staff that he invested their pension funds into one of Mr Shaw's suggested funds, losing everything.
Following a confrontation with Mr Shaw who is under FBI house arrest in his apartment, Josh takes out his frustration on Mr Shaw's property and is sacked along with colleagues, Charlie (Casey Affleck) and Devreux (Michael Pena). Shaw mocks Josh and demeans him, forcing Josh to move from dedicated protector of the property to a man keen to rob Shaw to return funds to his disgruntled friends and former colleagues.
Thrown into the mix is a former banker who is evicted from the prestigious tower and has nothing to lose (Matthew Broderick), an FBI agent keen to nail Shaw and with a soft spot for Josh (Tea Leoni) and a career criminal who used to attend day care with Josh (Eddie Murphy). Will the gang be able to outwit both Shaw and the FBI to use their in depth knowledge of the secure tower to steal the monies or are they truly the losers Shaw portrays them to be?
I came to this film with preconceptions, I expected it to be awful and it really wasn't, the first quarter of the film shows Josh as an annally retentive perfectionist, willing to do anything to make the tenants lives complete, as his world falls down around him we learn more about his tough upbringing and his 'connections', the first quarter draws you into understanding why these guys might feel they could steal the money and what motivates them to do so, while the characters aren't fully rounded they are likeable and the comedy is well played, there are some fantastic one liners that had us laughing out loud and the action is implausible but good fun nonetheless.
Stiller is solid as the main actor, sparking well off Murphy and Affleck in particular he plays both good guy and slightly naughtier guy really well, without ever needing to be wacky or off the wall, he is funny and gives a good performance, I enjoyed Affleck's understated role as Josh's put upon Brother in Law, he does the job unfussily and enjoyably, Alan Alda is excellent as the corrupt banker, you really dislike him after a start which seems to show him as a lovely guy, and these feelings help motivate you to cheer on the gang. Eddie Murphy is funnier than he has been for many years, fast talking, throwing insults around, although he is underused and its never fully clear how he switches from complete arse to a guy willing to work as a team player, as he has no motivation other than money to be involved. I did find Matthew Broderick as the banker a bit sad, he is weary and a real sad-sack and memories of his fantastic teenage turn as Ferris Bueller seem long gone in this role as a smart banker with nothing else left to lose. Gabourey Sidibe of Precious fame comes out with many of the best one liners in the film as a safe cracking chambermaid, while Tea Leoni is hilarious in one scene where she gets very drunk.
Overall this is a typical Brent Ratner film, funny with decent quips and one liners, fast paced and with a plot that makes sense in bits and asks you to suspend belief at other times, it will leave you with a smile on your face.
I would suggest buying a used copy from Amazon for £2.73 and enjoying it with the family.
Ben Stiller leads his staff into a heist at a new york hotel which until recently he worked at. A wall street stockbroker leads him up the garden path by saying he can increase the employees pension fund and using it for his own gain. The employees are obviously annoyed at Stiller he starts thinking.
The door man who has worked the doors for many a year has also been a target of this wall street trader and he has not only lost him his pension but every penny he had he invested upon a promise.
Stiller makes a plan to recoup everyones losses, as he believes there are millions stashed away in the traders penthouse.
After eventually finding the safe the team find it to be empty, where could the money be, well yes its looking you in the face under the paint of that lovely red car in the middle of the penthouse, now the team just have to figure out how to get it down all those floors.
Although the movie starts off quite slowly the humour of both Stiller and Eddie Murphy soon begins to shine through.
There was a time when just the addition of Ben Stiller to the cast almost guaranteed a few laughs in the film. Heck, there was a time (when big shoulder pads, luminous socks and Bucks Fizz were in vogue) that the addition of Eddie Murphy to the cast almost guaranteed a few laughs in the film. Now, sadly those days are well and truly gone, and if proof were needed; go waste some money seeing Tower Heist.
Tower Heist is the story of 'The Tower' - a luxury high rise apartment building where the honest, salt of the earth hard working staff led by Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) ensure that its high profile tenants get well and truly looked after.
Set amongst the backdrop of falling financial markets, the FBI arrests the richest and most successful tenant Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). But Josh finds out that his pension and all his staffs' pensions have been wiped out in Shaw's Ponzi scheme. The situation gets worse for Josh when he and two others get fired for berating Shaw, but when the drunken FBI agent (a miscast Tea Leoni) reveals that Shaw could well be hoarding mullions of dollars in his penthouse, Josh embarks upon a plan to steal it.
The stock in director Brett Ratner is definitely waning; below par Rush Hour 3 and disappointing X-Men: The Last Stand, Tower Heist has not done him any favours. The film started slowly, picked up marginally in the middle and then gave up on itself towards the end. I'm guessing it was supposed to be a film that crossed Oceans 11 with The Italian Job, but failed in every department. The casting was good - Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni and Judd Hirsch - all actors of merit, but the characters were lazily penned and what we saw was the usual collection of 'characters' supposed to appeal to the cinema-going demographics (white guy, black guy immigrant, old person, young person, family man etc..etc...) and Alan Alda's stereotypical crook was something that out of a 1950's B-movie.
There were very few laughs other than the ones Murphy, Stiller and Broderick conjured up from a lackluster and lazy script and the viewer's believability and patience were sorely tested as the film tailed off like an Austin allegro in an Indy 500. There were good enough performances from Stiller, Murphy and Broderick, but there should be... these three have some fine comedy films to their names (no, not including Norbit) but even they couldn't save this lazy and forgettable film
A film you will almost certainly forget within minutes of watching it. A PG-13, so maybe one for the kids, but certainly not one for discerning adults.
Run time 104 minutes
Funzometer rating 5.6
A pairing of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy - two individually very funny men - must have seemed like a marketing dream. As we know from bitter experience, however, Hollywood "dream pairings" can quickly turn into Nightmares. As it is, Tower Heist just about gets away with things.
Having entrusted all his colleagues' pension fund to the sleazy Mr Shaw who has embezzled it, elite apartment block manager Josh Kovacs must try to recoup the money by stealing $20 million from Shaw's suite of rooms. Unfortunately, Shaw is under house arrest and cannot leave his apartment which is heavily guarded by the FBI.
Tower Heist clearly wants to be one of the old-style caper films of the 60s and 70s, the kind that might have paired Robert Redford and Paul Newman. This is demonstrated by its constant (and often forced) references to Steve McQueen and his era of film-making. In brief bursts it succeeds with this goal, capturing both mis-matched buddy banter of that genre, along with an outrageous heist. Certainly when it comes to the actual theft, both the object of the raid and the way it is accomplished would not have looked out of place in a film like The Italian Job. As homage to those earlier films, Tower Heist is a reasonable (if unspectacular) attempt.
On the other hand, it is frustratingly inconsistent. If football is a game of two halves, then Tower Heist is a film of three thirds (or three halves if you're really bad at fractions). The film is very slow to get going and rather frustrating. Early attempts at being funny mis-fire spectacularly and at the start, I was seriously beginning to wonder whether I could sit through over 100 minutes of this rubbish. In fairness, this section has to set up the film's main characters (and there are several) together with the central plot which inevitably takes time. It could, however, have been done with a lot more flair and panache. Given that the film is set in a luxury apartment block, the scene setting could have been interspersed with some encounters with the oddball residents (who are curiously sidelined for the whole film) so that at least it would have been funny.
Thankfully, things pick up when Eddie Murphy appears. Murphy's no strange to mis-matched buddy comedies (48 Hours, Trading Places) and his "form" in this area helps to kick start Tower Heist. He quickly establishes a strong rapport with Ben Stiller and the banter between them can be very funny (particularly their initial encounter when Stiller bails Murphy from prison and tries to enlist his help).
This section is also the funniest because it brings together the team who are to carry out this heist. This, of course, is where it becomes clear that they are all totally incompetent and completely unsuited to carrying out any kind of theft, let alone a $20 million raid on a heavily guarded apartment. Their inept attempts at theft and Murphy's increasingly frustrated attempts to train them will raise a good few smiles and the occasional laugh. It's this section which just about saves Tower Heist and drags the score up to three stars. Had the rest of the film been of this quality, it could have been very funny indeed. As it is, it just about saves it from being a dead loss.
Sadly, this section is all too short as the film moves into the heist, where the comedy element is toned down in favour of the actual theft. Although Director Brett Ratner manages to infuse a mild level of tension, slowly revealing how well constructed the plan actually is, it never actually feels terribly exciting. In the heyday of the buddy heist movie (for example, The Sting), you were constantly on the edge of your seat, rooting for the "good guys", but worrying every step of the way that the wheels were going to come off their ambitious plan. Tower Heist has none of that. Whilst there are some reasonably daft elements to the actual theft and some vague attempts at set-pieces, it's not actually that thrilling and you're never really in any doubt that Stiller and co. will ultimately succeed.
The plot also relies a little too much on a whole string of extremely unlikely coincidences to, but then this is true of the old-style of heist movies too, so arguably this is a further homage to its source material, rather than an actual weakness.
So: of the three "halves", one is poor; one is good and the other passable, adding up to an acceptable, if mediocre film.
In fairness, the cast do their best with this average material. Stiller and Murphy show some promise as a mis-matched double act, although their opportunities to exploit this fully are limited due to the uneven script. Both make for charismatic leads (although it's clear that this is Stiller's film with Murphy along for the ride). There's always fun to be had from Murphy's motor mouthed approach and that's as true of this film was it was of Trading Places or Beverly Hills Cop back in the 80s. Stiller is more restrained, doing his usual "put-upon good guy" routine; whilst this might be lacking anything new, it works well in the context of the film.
Because the focus is mainly on Stiller and Murphy, the rest of the cast suffer from being sidelined, although each has their moments. Michael Pena proves surprisingly adept at comedy when given the opportunity (although his chances to shine are sadly limited), although Casey Affleck is disappointingly bland as gang member Charlie. Matthew Broderick (can Ferris Bueller really have got that old?) is superb as the timid Mr Fitzhugh, who is reluctantly drawn into the plans and has several of the film's funniest moments. Alan Alda is on sleaze duty as swindler Arthur Shaw, but sometimes seems to be on autopilot and Tea Leoni's FBI agent is rather bland and saddled with having to move the plot along to have much chance to show any comedic ability.
There's some fun interplay between the cast, but it lacks a bit of sparkle and needed more emphasis on the comedy element to work properly. It's very noticeable that the middle section - which concentrates on the interplay between the gang members - is easily the strongest and you find yourself wishing the rest of the film could have been as good as this. You can't help feeling that this is rather a waste of a promising ensemble cast.
As an attempt to update the formerly popular action-comedy heist genre, Tower Heist is solid, if unspectacular. It could have done with a little more comedy to help keep the pace up, but it's an inoffensive little film that will keep you entertained... even if you do forget about it the moment the end credits roll. Rent, don't buy.
Director: Brett Ratner
Running time: approx. 104 minutes
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