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Film Review: Tower Heist

Nov 19, 2011 01:50AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Tower Heist is pretty much as the title indicates, a movie about a heist in a tower. The movie follows Josh (played by Ben Stiller) who happens to be the general manager of a tower building that houses the richest men in the world, including Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda). After Shaw is arresting for defrauding his clients, including all the staff at the tower, Josh decides to break into his high security penthouse to steal the money back for his staff.

The marketing for this movie sold this as a comedy. In reality it plays much more like an Ocean's Eleven type of heist movie, leaning more on the drama of the heist than any gags from the comedians. Most of the funny moments are seen on the previews. The main thrust of the story is the evil hedge fund operator stealing the working man’s money -- a theme topical in today’s political landscape, although the movie doesn’t have anything terribly insightful to add to the discussion.

Tower Heist is moderately entertaining as the audience tries to guess how this unlikely trio pulls off the robbery. Of course as the film progresses, the plot becomes silly and then by the end it borders on ridiculous in terms of the plausibility of the situations and what the characters actually do. So unlike Ocean's Eleven where the elaborate scheme seems nuanced and intelligent, this plan becomes stupid but fun none the less.

Brett Ratner is the type of director that knows how to put together a film skillfully, if not artfully. His movies are by the number and do everything right, but don't make anything exceptional.  So while I can’t say anything specifically bad about the decisions he makes as a director, I can’t say that he does anything extraordinary either. Tower Heist is no exception to his track record that includes Rush Hour, Red Dragon and X-Men 3.

My biggest complaint with the movie is that its characters are flat. With the exception of Alan Alda, who is excellent as the horrible Arthur Shaw (and clearly based the character was based on Bernie Madoff) the cast seems to just go through the motions. Eddie Murphy makes brief appearances where he generally screams his lines and does his shtick but most of the characters are far too passive on an emotional level.  

It won’t deliver the laughs one might expect but Tower Heist is entertaining enough for a single viewing. It won’t be memorable or entertaining enough for a second look though. After all, once you know how they pull the heist off the luster is gone. This is true for most heist style movies though -- it’s just part of the genre.

Films like Tower Heist – Ocean's Eleven, Italian Job and National Treasure


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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