starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, Michael Peňa and Alan Alda
screenplay by Ted Briffin and Jeff Nathanson
directed by Brett Ratner
I like Alan Alda and enjoy seeing him pop up now and then in one film or another. In Tower Heist Alda plays Arthur Shaw a corrupt financial magnate living comfortably in his luxury condominium tower while quietly leading his investors to financial ruin. He’s secretly bankrupt but living the high life by skimming his clients’ cash. He’s a Ponzi schemer - you know, using cash from new investors to pay off old investors, and secretly padding his own pockets into the bargain.
Ben Stiller plays building manager Josh Kovacs. Josh leads a group of disgruntled building employees whose retirement plans have been royally spoiled after being lured into Shaw’s investment schemes. They are on a mission of revenge against the dangerous, influence-wielding financier. They enlist professional petty thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) to teach them any skills they might be lacking. While Mr. Shaw is detained in FBI custody the disgruntled group breaks into his suite looking for a wall safe with a suspected hoard of cash. Finding the safe empty, they decide instead to snub the arrogant felon by stealing his prized sports car, not realizing that the car is actually solid gold. Shaw hid his personal stash in plain sight, disguised as a car right in his living room. Strange place for a car, but the building’s staff is trained to pander to, or else turn a blind eye to their wealthy residents’ idiosyncrasies.
A lot of Ben Stiller’s movies are somewhat spoiled with a persistent streak of adolescent sexual humor, which I unfailingly credit to Stiller’s influence. But Tower Heist was better than others of his movies. But I think it would have been a much better movie if 1) it starred Tom Cruise instead of Ben Stiller, and 2) it was a straight action-thriller rather than a comedy. As it is, it was just okay. I wouldn’t watch it a second time.
One annoying feature of Ben Stiller’s dialogue that I have noticed in practically all his films is his habit of beginning sentences with, “Yeah, no....” One of my brothers talks like that.