Eddie Murphy Steals Back His Reputation in “Tower Heist”

By Clio McConnell

With all the hype surrounding “Tower Heist” and its all-star cast, audiences have been led to hold high hopes for Brett Ratner’s new comedy. Thankfully, these expectations are satisfied. Though it is by no means the best film to come from any of its actors, it is nonetheless a pleasant and entertaining surprise.

The film’s company of actors includes comedy greats like Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, and Alan Alda. As could only be expected, all involved are looking a little old (though Murphy’s face is elastic as ever). Indeed, one might think that this was just the collective attempted comeback of a troupe of aging comedians. Fortunately, this is not the case, and the age of the stars is not to the movie’s detriment.

At times seeming like an alternate-universe sequel to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”—what with the central role of Matthew Broderick, Ferrari sports cars, and the sarcastic bad-arsery of its protagonists—“Tower Heist” is one of the most ridiculous con movies you’ll ever see, but somehow the actors make you want to believe that it could really happen.

Just how did Ratner and his actors manage to reconcile solid gold cars, elevator shaft climbing, and crazy car chases through the Thanksgiving Day Parade without making the film a parody of Ocean’s Eleven? Despite its theatricality, the storyline—excluding the details of the heist itself—is not too far-fetched. The general plot involves big shot real-estate investor Arthur Shaw, who lives in the penthouse of The Tower and attempts to flee New York City after he is accused of fraud. Caught by the FBI, Shaw’s indiscretions come to light and we discover that The Tower’s employees are among the victims of his swindle. The employees consequently decide to take matters into their own hands by stealing back their life savings.

Ben Stiller plays the lead role of Josh Kovacs, the hard-nosed building manager of The Tower. Stiller deploys his usual deadpan shtick and his solid comic timing to charm the audience into cheering for his hare-brained scheme to work. Casey Affleck is Charlie, Kovacs’ brother-in-law and the Tower’s concierge,  a cute, self-confident jerk who somehow manages to be sensible and slow-witted at the same time. Alda is perfect as the smooth-talking white-collar criminal, and even Matthew Broderick’s performance as the downtrodden Mr. Fitzhugh has its moments, especially with such gallows-humor remarks as: “If you need me, I’ll be living in this box.”

But the true value of “Tower Heist” lies in the fact that it just might shock the life back into Eddie Murphy’s floundering career. Our favorite Nutty Professor gets instant laughs when he walks on-screen as Slide (the movie’s resident experienced heist consultant) and continues to earn chuckles from the audience throughout the film. Though he doesn’t quite live up to his past comedic heights, the entertainment value he brings to “Tower Heist” suggests that Murphy is on his way back up.

Clio is a staff writer. Contact her at film@nyunews.com

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One Comment Add yours

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Made me laugh and held my interest more than it should have, given how sloppy it is. Call it an acceptable bit of B-minus work from a C student. Good review. Eddie really had me laughing here but he wasn’t the only one.

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