‘Tower Heist’ showcases nice revival for Murphy

The word “disaster” would be an understatement to best describe how Eddie Murphy’s acting career has been going the last decade.

Director Brett Ratner’s latest comedy “Tower Heist,” however, is a little revival of sorts that echoes those 1980s raunchy performances that made Murphy a rising star in Hollywood.

“Tower Heist”  centers around a group of ordinary men—Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), Charlie Gibbs (Casey Affleck), Enrique Dev’reaux (Michael Peña) and Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick)—who decide to rob a business tycoon, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), after he stole their retirement pensions in a Ponzi scheme. They also enlist the help of a criminal, Slide (Eddie Murphy), to perform the heist.

The story should sound familiar, as the premise draws similarities to 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” in which three Las Vegas casino heists are performed by eleven people. This time, though, Stiller and his crew of blue-collar workers aren’t professional thieves.

In fact, Murphy’s character Slide is not even a professional thief, but rather an average criminal who only has performed minor thefts.

So far as the believability of the story goes, it fails in that department. There is little preparation for the heist.

And Kovacs and company think they can waltz right into one of the most secure buildings in the world (The Tower) and steal more than $20 million locked up in a safe.

Even though it’s comical, Kovacs’ mini replica of Shaw’s residence floor built out of legos suggests that the group is not disciplined enough to take the scheme seriously.

At least George Clooney and company actually have a methodical and logical way of executing their respected heist in “Ocean’s Eleven.” However, in “Tower Heist,” it turns out that that Lady Luck succeeds in the heist when inexperience shows itself.

The story is hard to get into at first, especially considering the fact that the actual heist is performed halfway into the movie.

If you can manage to get past the lackluster story, however, you will find an abundance of raunchy and hilarious performances beyond its outset. Stiller and Murphy play off each other to near perfection. And Broderick also shines in his role as well.

Although not nearly as raunchy, Alda gives a surprising breakthrough performance with his limited screen time. For a story that needed a good villain to begin with, he delivers a menacing persona for a tough role to fill. He gives the best performance out of anybody in the movie.

It’s not his best work, but Ratner, despite some slow direction, manages to create a solid comedy that should suffice most.

It’s not as funny as July’s “Horrible Bosses,” but the entertaining performances are a huge reason to give this one a watch.


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