TOWER HEIST Review: Ocean's Eleven With More Laughs, Less Style

Don’t think too much and you should get a decent amount of enjoyment from this comedy caper that takes itself more seriously than you should.

rating: 3

Eddie Murphy finally returns to something near his former comedic best in this all-star ensemble, heist caper comedy, which also stars Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, Tea Leone, Gabourey Sidibe and two golden oldies from TV€™s heyday Alan Alda and Judd Hirsch. Ben Stiller plays diligent building manager Josh Kovacs; universally loved by his colleagues and the residents of €˜The Tower€™ - the most prestigious building in Manhattan €“ he is a man who lives to work. And who can blame him when he lives in a run-down slum of a neighbourhood and has the foul mouthed petty criminal Eddie Murphy as his neighbour who offers a daily dose of verbal abuse? I was under the impression a manager of such a prestigious apartment building would earn enough to not have to live in such a place; but never mind. Stiller€™s day-to-day revolves around reassuring his brother-in-law and father to be Casey Affleck that he€™s doing a good job on the building€™s front desk; showing new elevator boy Michael Pena the ins and outs of the building €“ let€™s dispense with a shedload of exposition in the most textbook style possible €“ and buying former financial wiz Matthew Broderick a grace period before he is evicted €“ it€™s Stiller€™s save the cat moment €“ and sucking up the building€™s most affluent tenant: charming wall street magnate and all-round nice guy Alan Alda. But Alda is not all he appears. The FBI led by agent Tea Leoni foil his attempt to flee the country when it is discovered he has been in on a Ponzi scheme. Even worse it transpires that a few years back Stiller entrusted Alda with every employee€™s pension fund, which have now all been swallowed up. Confined to his penthouse mansion under house arrest and twenty-four hour surveillance, Alda pleads his innocence but Stiller sees through his phony façade and decides the only way he can make amends is by breaking in to Alda€™s apartment and cracking into his safe which he believes holds his undeclared millions. After convincing Pena, Affleck and Broderick he bails Murphy out of jail and a cue Ocean€™s Fourteen but with heart instead of smugness. Like most Brett Ratner movies, Tower Heist requires you to forget all logic and rationality and swallow a hefty scoop of schmaltz, but fortunately for the finished piece, when it€™s funny it€™s very funny, which is a credit to the cast; with special mention going to Murphy for his turn as a foul mouthed, petty criminal that has shades of his early and best comedic characters Axel Foley and more closely Reggie Hammond from 48 Hours. Broderick is great as a downtrodden, nervous loser and Tea Leone is excellent as a lusty, loose, lush FBI agent, whose desire to bring Alan Alda to justice is perhaps only bettered by her lust for Stiller. Alan Alda€™s charm as the evil Wall Street banker - is there any other kind in today€™s morally and financially bankrupt world? €“ adds some added class to what could have been a two dimensional villain. Ben Still provides an able leading performance; Stiller is never at his best playing the €˜straight-man€™, but here he manages to balance moments of comedy with drama quite effectively. As a piece it lacks a consistent tone and style of humour; there are moments between Still, Murphy and co of what appears to be improvised dialogue that is really funny, including one line that generated a genuine belly laugh, €˜I don€™t remember an episode of Matlock where Matlock got f****d by the criminal!€™. However, then there€™s a far too healthy dose of slapstick, obvious and cheap humour the type you will encounter in an Adam Sandler movie that doesn€™t always sit nicely beside a foul mouthed tirade from Murphy. But the film€™s key failing is that it panders to the audience; exposition is repetitive and heavy, which slows the pace and the filmmakers feel the need to spread the plot thickly. In this post-recession society that we live in we need very little to get us on the side of working men who are swindled; likewise we need very little reason to hate a rich fat cat who is swindling the working man. Despite this there are a solid and consistent stream of jokes, some slick set pieces and some moments of shock and tension in a pacey third act. Don€™t think too much and you should get a decent amount of enjoyment from this comedy caper that takes itself more seriously than you should. Tower Heist is released in cinema's tomorrow in the UK and on Friday in the U.S.

Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!