‘Tower Heist’ a serviceable comedy

Article Published: Nov. 10, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 14, 2011
‘Tower Heist’ a serviceable comedy

From left, Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, Casey Affleck and Eddie Murphy star in ‘Tower Heist.’

The new caper comedy, “Tower Heist,” is like a tray of movie theater nachos – an appealing concept, but hardly fulfilling.

Like that tortilla chip with a heaping dollop of cheese product, it can be enjoyable, but come dinnertime, you’ve forgotten all about it.

“Tower Heist” is an entertaining, but hardly memorable, diversion. Its highlight is a supporting role from Eddie Murphy (“Trading Places”) that doesn’t involve a beleaguered parent, a professor who is somewhat nutty, or the words “Daddy Day Care.”

It’s a return to ’80s form for Murphy, who was reportedly set to star in this comedy originally conceived as “a black ‘Ocean’s 11,’” which would have featured an ensemble cast of African-American comedians.

But producers have a funny way of repackaging concepts. Those packages often include Ben Stiller (“Zoolander”).

“Tower Heist” stars Stiller as Josh Kovacs, general manager of The Tower, a posh Central Park high-rise home to the filthy rich. When its penthouse resident, a Bernie Madoff-ish swindler named Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, “Crimes & Misdemeanors”), robs the entire staff of their pensions, Josh decides it’s time to strike back.

With the help of neighbor (and career criminal) Slide (Murphy), maid/safecracker Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”), disgraced investor Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick, “Election”), elevator operator Dev’Reaux (Michael Pena, “30 Minutes or Less”) and career criminal/neighbor Slide (Murphy), Kovacs hitches a plan to hit Shaw where it hurts, while repaying The Tower staff and then some.

Directed by Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”), who seems to have mastered mediocrity, “Tower Heist” brings nothing new to its genre, rather depending on its ensemble for any semblance of originality.

Most of the cast delivers, with a few laugh-out-loud moments scattered here and there, but the casual pace of the first act absentmindedly follows through into the heist, which, by definition, should have some degree of suspense.

The second act seems hastily written, as if Ratner decided the heist wasn’t a crucial component in a film called “Tower Heist.”

But there are laughs to be had and performances to be enjoyed, particularly from Murphy and Alda. The heist of the century this is not, but it’s sufficient for 104 minutes.

“Tower Heist,” rated PG-13 for language and sexual content, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.
For show times, see page 9-B or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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