A scene from Tower HeistTower Heist is a return to form for two of the men involved: director Brett Ratner and actor Eddie Murphy. The title is self-explanatory, so there’s no mystery to the film – except that it’s actually enjoyable.

Josh (Ben Stiller) is the longtime building manager of a high-end condo. He knows the eccentricities and preferences of every resident, and runs the staff as a well-oiled machine. Then one of the tenants (Alan Alda) is arrested for fraud Bernie Madoff-style and Josh has to inform his staff he’d entrusted him with their pensions. Determined to make things right, he decides to steal back their money. Forming a small crew, he enlists the help of his brother-in-law (Casey Affleck), an evicted resident (Matthew Broderick), a new hire (Michael Peña) and a small-time crook that lives on his street (Murphy).

Obviously this film is asking audiences to suspend their beliefs because the caper and its execution are pretty far-fetched. These average guys have an Ocean’s 11 moment (made more evident by the presence of Affleck) in which Stiller outlines all the obstacles to their treasure, including a state-of-the-art security system and armed men guarding the entrance way –  at which point it becomes clear their goal is realistically out of reach. But you either have to go with the flow or spend the next hour on a sinking ship.

Note, choosing the first option does payoff since the movie, it turns out, is a fairly entertaining comedy. Ratner recreates his success with Rush Hour, while Murphy revives a career that’s been on life support since the last Beverly Hills Cop with lines like, “I will shoot your face right off your face.” The remainder of the cast all has proven comedic timing and talent, which blend to create a laugh-out-loud movie.

Alda plays a wonderful villain and the other men’s dead pan deliveries are perfect. Broderick excels as the down-and-out, pathetic mess; Affleck is excellent as the worrier; Peña shines even in a limited role; and Stiller lives for larger-than-life ideas. The female characters have limited roles, usually deferring to the men in the film. Gabriel dons a heavy Jamaican accent and loudly voices her opinions and need for a new visa/husband; while Tea is a by the book FBI agent whose sympathy for the victims compromises her adherence to procedure.

Though expectations were admittedly low, Tower Heist filled the theatre with laughter countless times throughout the screening and was unquestionably enjoyable.


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