Ah, the heist movie. The one genre where we root for the criminals, often following an all-star gang going in for one last big score.
The appeal of this celluloid walk on the wild side is undeniable, but what if a group of regular people decided to try it? That’s what today’s subject strives to answer.
“Tower Heist” follows the life of Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), the manager of an upscale apartment building. It is a place where only the rich and famous can afford to live. One of the wealthiest tenants, a Bernie Madoff allegory named Arthur Shaw (played by veteran actor Alan Alda), is arrested when he’s found guilty of securities fraud.
When it’s revealed that Shaw is responsible for investing the money for the staff’s collective pension, Kovacs, along with two other staffers and one recently evicted tenant (played by Casey Affleck, Michael Peña and Matthew Broderick respectively), team up with a petty thief (Eddie Murphy) to raid Shaw’s apartment to steal back the money.
Thankfully this film did not fall prey to the Adam Sandler formula in which comedy is at the beginning and the end with the out-of-place drama in the middle. Instead, “Tower Heist” keeps the comedy consistent in the sense that you find yourself laughing as the drama unfolds.
This doesn’t mean that this film is a dark comedy. It just doesn’t bum you out with all the bad stuff that happens to the characters. It uses misfortune to endear you to the characters.
It’s not all black and white with this film either. Since this is a heist movie, it doesn’t inject the elements of action and mystery into the film, which included material that would be deemed spoilers.
What I also liked about this film is that it didn’t go the route of the recent string of raunchy comedies that have been over-saturating the box office as of late. While there were innuendos here and there, the jokes were tasteful without being uptight. Such subtlety hasn’t been seen in comedies for quite a while.
Another thing that I liked was that while most films released at this time of year try to milk the holiday season, “Tower Heist” kept it subtle, only mentioning how it ties to the whole heist. It also didn’t jump all the way to the holiday that most companies are keen to acknowledge (Christmas), but instead acknowledged Thanksgiving. Again, though, it kept the connection subdued, only mentioning it when necessary.
Overall, I had a wonderful time while watching this film. It kept a nice, consistent blend of action, comedy and drama. It provided us characters that are endearing and easy to care about. Ultimately, the result is a worthwhile comedy that is sure to end up on the list of classics alongside films such as “Sister Act” and the “Naked Gun” trilogy.
I give this film a 4.5/5. A film that’s funny to the point of being criminal. (Sorry to end on that pun.)