After seeing Tower Heist, mulling it over and eventually sleeping on it, I can’t think of another movie that draws less enthusiasm out of me. Sure, I was entertained while it was onscreen (and there’s certainly something to be said for that), but so what? The whole thing smacks of middlebrow and inoffensive, from a cast and a director (the usually abrasive Mr. Brett Ratner) at their safest.
To an extent, Ratner should actually be commended for what he elicits from a script that had the fingers of four writers in it. Given the movie’s laborious set-up (it takes 30 minutes to tell us what 30 seconds of trailer did) and a plot full of contrivances and unbelievability, it’s to Ratner’s credit that he managed to make anything sensible. Still, making a movie tolerable is nothing to get too jazzed about, and Tower Heist does little new or exciting. They’ve taken Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films and replaced all the slick coolness with a sheen of mildly amusing bumbling. And while there’s a large portion of the population who’ll find this just dandy, Tower Heist scales the less-than-dizzying heights of adequacy.
Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, an efficient manager of an extremely high-end Manhattan tower that caters to the super-rich. After tower resident — and Wall Street bigwig — Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) gets busted for fraud, Josh realizes that all tower employees — from the doormen to the cleaning ladies — have lost their pensions in Shaw’s apparent Ponzi scheme. Knowing no other way to fix things, Josh concocts a plan to burgle Shaw’s nest-egg hidden in his penthouse suite. For help, he brings in a ragtag group of normal guys — including his brother-in-law (Casey Affleck) and a broke, unemployed investor (Matthew Broderick) — and a neighborhood thief (a funnier than usual Eddie Murphy, who’s really just not as awful as usual), and a series of misadventures ensue.
Once we get past the set-up and into the actual heist, the film moves well enough. And it has to, since slowing down for even a moment would give the audience a chance to spot the plot’s myriad contrivances and holes. Most of the film doesn’t make sense on some level, but Ratner makes sure Tower Heist just keeps on trucking past such matters. Of course, this is a director whose last concern is cohesiveness — he’s one of those directors whose pompous persona attempts to mask the fact that all he really cares about are car chases. In a film like this with its messy story and likable-enough performers, it’s all just good enough. Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content