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Let me get this out of the way right now. Tower Heist is stupid. It’s so dumb, in fact, that I can’t imagine anyone watching it and not mumbling, “Wait—what?” at least once. Its gaps in logic are numerous, and its plot holes are big enough to lower a car through. Its idiocy is such that with almost any other heist movie, that quality would likely become its fundamental characteristic. On paper, the audience should have left this movie confused and angry, but thanks to a brilliant performance by Eddie Murphy, a slew of great scenes and a few awesome asides, people walked out laughing and reminiscing about their favorite parts.
I’m not here to argue logic and reason don’t matter. I could write five thousand words on all the ways this film could have been improved, but I don’t want to. Like the rest of the audience, all I want to talk about are the moments that really worked. Sure, somewhere in the back of my head, I’ll always be angry about what could have been, but right now, I’m pleased as hell about what is.
As I’m writing this, my boss Josh Tyler is compiling a list of the stupidest things about Tower Heist. No doubt his list will be exhaustive, but like me, he still enjoyed the hell out of this movie. You almost certainly will too. Here are a few of the reasons why this film is worth your money…
WARNING! SPOILERS! This will be a spoiler intensive discussion of the movie Tower Heist.
If you don’t want to know, stop reading right now! Go no further. You’ve been warned.
Eddie Murphy Is Brilliant: Most comedians inevitably hit a wall in which the public’s perspective of what is or is not funny passes them by. Only the most brilliant seem timeless, and Tower Heist proves Murphy is just as capable of stealing a movie now as he was in the early 80s. There are at least five or six scenes Eddie runs away with here, outclassing even his funny co-stars and building a torrent of hilarious momentum throughout the film. I particularly enjoyed his rant on the pros of lesbian boobs, but nearly a dozen of Eddie’s better lines will still be with me weeks from now. Is he back? I guess that depends on whether you mistakenly thought he went away.
Tea Leoni And Ben Stiller Have A Realistic Drinking Scene: Movies often use booze as a catalyst for either a big emotional reveal or outlandish behavior. In Tower Heist, Stiller and Leoni get drunk like real human beings. Talking over shots and occasionally leaning in too close, they have a few laughs, shoot the shit and leave without making decisions with long-term repercussions. It’s a great way to unwind with the characters and an even better way to laugh with Leoni, and by proxy every good-natured and drunk female you’ve ever met, as she high steps her way out the door and into a cab.
Michael Pena Continues His Run Of Great Supporting Roles: Michael Pena has been great in a lot of more serious roles, but it’s his recent supporting turns in Observe & Report and 30 Minutes Or Less that stick out for me. That wonderful nitwit energy is on full display here, as he plays a former Burger King employee who impulsively goes along with Stiller’s idiotic scheme likely because he doesn’t have anything better to do. His comedic style plays very well juxtaposed against the other leads and despite what it might seem like from the ski mask conversation in the trailer, Pena never lets his character morph into a dumb caricature. Job well done.
It Handles Swearing Well: This might seem like an idiotic reason to see a movie, but we’ve all sat through PG-13 crime flicks that feel fundamentally off because the characters aren’t letting enough racy material fly. That’s never an issue with Tower Heist. Murphy especially has a filthy mouth, which seems about right for his character. The best thing I can say about the language is that I didn’t notice the film was PG-13.
Matthew Broderick Makes The Most Of Every Line: Living in a rundown motel after losing his condo, Broderick deals with fear and hunger in equal measure. He’s almost as pleased about free crackers during the planning scene as he is terrified when Murphy makes him steal from a department store to prove his worth. He’s arguably the least important of the four main characters, but he also crushes nearly every time he opens his mouth. His Mr. Fitzhugh reminded me a bit of his turn on 30 Rock, which is absolutely a compliment. Broderick might always be remembered for his home run as Ferris Bueller, but he’s more than capable of doubling off the fence in roles like this.
The Dialogue Is Handled Perfectly: Even the best comedians have strengths and weaknesses. They have certain rhythms and paces at which they thrive and others that don’t suit their timing. Eddie Murphy, for example, needs room. He’s always funnier after the first line. For him, the initial comment is a starting point from which he can build. Matthew Broderick, on the other hand, is better with the hilarious aside. He gets in and gets out without one wasted word. Tower Heist might have some structural problems, but its director Brett Ratner puts each one of his actors in the best possible position for success. The conversations end at exactly the right moment, and the cut-to shots are timed perfectly. The result is an often sleek and consistently funny film.
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