Leaning tower of Ponzi
With a title about as clever as its plot, director Brett Ratner’s (Rush Hour) latest comedy caper Tower Heist is the definition of mindless entertainment. I didn’t go into the screening expecting much, so its two hours of mediocrity didn’t disappoint me (too much).
Finance wizard Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is the penthouse occupant of a ritzy New York high-rise (Trump Tower in transparent disguise).When the tower’s blue-collar employees fall prey to their “friend’s” investment scheme, they conspire to rob the fraudster’s apartment in the hopes of taking back what’s rightfully theirs. A weaker version of Ocean’s Eleven ensues as the group of unlikely partners devises a breaking-and-entering plan. Recently fired building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) leads this motivated crew. Throw in an ex-con (Eddie Murphy), a bumbling nerd (Matthew Broderick) and two fellow enraged employees (Casey Affleck and Gabourey Sidibe), and you have the rest of the amateur dream team filled with all of your stereotypical caricatures.
Between all the tip-toeing around the tower and the cringe-worthy action slapstick, the actual heist scenes are some of weakest of the film, with only occasional moments of harmless humor. But somewhere between the slap and the stick, the film finds some social relevance. With Kovac’s steal-from-the-rich-give-to-the-poor motivation, this morality tale gives a big nod to the 99 percent who wish they too could stick it to the Wall Street fat cats as this ensemble does to Alda’s Bernie Madoff-like character.
There’s too much farce to take this revenge comedy seriously, but Tower Heist should get minimal credit for bringing relevance to a genre that’s usually too busy focusing on its own spectacle to make note of the real-life issues outside Hollywood’s fantasy land.