Studio: Universal Pictures (104 min)
Plot: An action-comedy about a staff of blue-collar workers who seek revenge on the Wall Street swindler that stiffed them.
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Gabourey Sidibe, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Matthew Broderick
Bottom Line: ****
By Samantha Ofole-Prince
After a group of workers at a luxury Central Park condominium called The Tower, discover the penthouse billionaire, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), has stolen their retirement pension, they plot the ultimate revenge to reclaim their investment.
With only days before he gets away with the perfect crime, the crew, which includes a foulmouthed, petty criminal called Slide (Eddie Murphy), Charlie (Casey Affleck), a highly-strung concierge, and a feisty Jamaica maid called Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), all decide to get even.
Led by a disgruntled manager, Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller), the rookie thieves plan the nearly impossible — to steal the $20 million, which they are sure is hidden in the heavily guarded penthouse condo where Shaw is being held.
Picture “Ocean’s 11” with a sprinkling of smart humor and the result is “Tower Heist.”
This is good comedy as Murphy, whose comedic talents are readily apparent, exudes the kind of cheeky, cocky charm we’ve previously seen in early flicks ” 48 Hours” and “Trading Places.”
Directed by Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour” series), the movie’s conception came from Murphy who pitched the idea to Ratner in 2005.
“He pitched an idea to develop a film with a number of comedians playing guys, who were down on their luck, the genesis of Tower Heist,” affirms Ratner. “He wanted to create a movie with characters that were not the cool, slick guys. His idea was that the story would follow a group of disgruntled employees in a building like the Trump Tower, who seize their chance and plan a robbery. Naturally, everything that could possibly go wrong with their ill-conceived plans did.”
For Ratner, the opportunity to direct a comedy icon was one he didn’t hesitate to grab.
“I grew up watching all of Eddie’s films and studying them, so the chance to work with him was a dream come true. Not only was this movie Eddie’s idea, but in a lot of ways, he invented the genre. If it wasn’t for him, my Rush Hour series would never have existed.”
Humor naturally punctuates a storyline complemented by action in this flick, which lifts the curtain on the inner workings of a luxury high-rise.
The supporting cast, which includes Matthew Broderick easily breathes life into their characters delivering smart and sassy one-liners.
Sidibe follows up her dramatic debut in “Precious” in the role of Odessa Montero, a feisty Jamaican-born maid, who is trying to secure her green card. As the daughter of a locksmith, she possesses skills that prove to be invaluable to the team.
“I am not Jamaican,” admits the Harlem-bred actress, “but some of my friends are, so I brought their blunt, quick-witted sass to Odessa. I’ve been teasing them our entire friendship, so it was nice to honor them on camera.”
With climactic scenes and an incredibly satisfying finale – which includes an appropriately mean-spirited comeuppance for Shaw, “Tower Heist” is a delightful action-comedy that scales new heights and ends on a high note.
This was printed in the November 20, 2011 - December 3, 2011 edition