Monday, November 14, 2011
Premiered November 4, 2011
Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the building manager of the Tower, a high rise apartment in New York's Columbus Circle. (New Yorkers may recognize the building as the actual Trump Tower.) Josh is friendly with tycoon and Tower penthouse resident Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). The Tower's staff consists of a large and multi-ethnic crew including: Lester (Stephen Henderson), the doorman, Charlie the concierge (Casey Affleck), Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), a hotel maid, and Enrique (Michael Pena), a new elevator operator.
We also briefly meet a few other wealthy residents of the Tower all of whom have idiosyncratic and exacting expectations of the staff.
Josh's boss, Mr. Simon (Judd Hirsch) tells him to take care of an eviction that needs to take place discreetly. The evictee is Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a Wall Street trader who has lost everything in the recent stock market crash. Josh doesn't have the heart to toss Fitzhugh out on the street and finds a way to delay the eviction.
The next day, Arthur Shaw gets arrested by the FBI for running a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. As it turns out, Josh had given all the staff pension funds to Shaw for investments, so the entire staff is now without retirement money.
Josh realizes that Shaw is hiding missing funds in his penthouse without the knowledge of the FBI investigators. He tries to confront Shaw, with disastrous results, and gets himself (as well as Charlie and Enrique) fired. In disgust, and with a view towards making use of insider knowledge of the Tower's daily routines, Josh devises a Robin Hood-esque scheme to try and get the pension money back. He enlists the aid of Charlie and Enrique as well as Mr. Fitzhugh - they make an unlikely team. Josh also brings in an outsider -- Slide (Eddie Murphy), a fast talking small time con artist from Queens -- to supply the criminal knowledge that he and his colleagues blatantly lack.
Our band of miscreants chooses Thanksgiving Day to pull off their master plan due to the complicating factor of the Macy's Parade passing right by the Tower, thereby making police intervention much more difficult. Will our unlikely heroes pull off the heist and give Shaw his comeuppance? Or will they wind up in prison while Shaw goes free? Will they all get entanlged in a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon? Watch and find out!
As is typical in this sort of caper film, nothing quite goes according to plan, which is part of the fun. The prominent role of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade makes this a memorable holiday film. Although I tend to find Ben Stiller a bit bland as the lead in movies, his character is likeable enough. That being said, the performances by the supporting cast are what makes this film "pop." Eddie Murphy's Slide is hilarious and reminiscent of some of his earlier work from the 1980s. Sadly, I feel Slide is a bit under-used in terms of the overall plot. Gabourey Sidibe's safe-cracking Jamaican maid, Odessa is also a great addition to the cast. It is nice to see Sidibe displaying her comedic abilities.
There are a few plot holes one could drive a 1963 Ferrari through if you think about them too hard, but this movie is about light-hearted caper-tastic fun rather than tight plotting. It is worth a look, but may not be one for annual November viewing.
2 1/2 pumpkin pies
J.A. Morris says:
We're in general agreement about this movie, and the work of the actors. I'll add that Alan Alda is great as White Collar criminal Arthur Shaw. But the real star of this movie is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, it's a "character" just as much as any of the human characters in Tower Heist. And this movie is a reminder that the parade is just as uniquely (North) American as Thanksgiving Day itself.