A Few Good Laughs

‘Tower Heist’ provides them, plus ‘In Time,’ ‘Mighty Macs.’

By Lori Hoffman

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 9, 2011

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Stiller and Murphy

In the midst of all the Occupy Wall Street hoopla, Tower Heist is basking in some free publicity. It is easy to root for a bunch of working stiffs who are swindled out of their retirement fund by a slick Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme and seek revenge.

The employees at The Tower in New York, are crushed when they find out the guy who occupies the penthouse suite (played by an effectively smug Alan Alda) has stolen all their money and seems to be getting away with it, despite the efforts of the tough-minded FBI agent (played by Tea Leoni) who arrests him.

Ben Stiller’s Josh Kovacs, the manager of the building, hatches a crazy scheme to get the employees’ money back, and since “heist” is in the title, you can figure out what his plan involves. Directed by the most bombastic director this side of Michael Bay, Brett (Rush Hour) Ratner, the film is surprisingly restrained for a Ratner movie, even if it does include an extended segment featuring an automobile dangling out the side of a building.

Stiller enlists the help of several key employees and a former tenant (played by Casey Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe, Matthew Broderick and Michael Pena) for his scheme, but the key player in this game of revenge is Eddie Murphy’s Slide, a small-time crook. At least he has some experience in taking what doesn’t belong to him.

As heist movies go, Tower Heist is pretty tame — we aren’t talking Ocean’s Eleven here — but the comedy element is better than expected, with a particular nod to Gabby Sidibe’s out-of-control maid and Broderick’s elegant comic timing as a number crunching nerd.

Tower Heist provides enough laughs sprinkled throughout its running time to be an acceptable movie comedy.

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