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Movie Review: Tower Heist

November 4, 2011

Tower Heist – A Universal Pictures’ Release

Release Date: November 4th, 2011

Rated PG for action violence, coarse language, not for young children

Running time: 104 minutes

Brett Ratner (dir.)

Ted Griffin (screenplay & story)

Jeff Nathanson (screenplay)

Adam Cooper (story)

Bill Collage (story)

Christophe Beck (music)

Ben Stiller as Josh Kovacs

Eddie Murphy as Slide

Casey Affleck as Charlie

Alan Alda as Arthur Shaw

Matthew Broderick as Mr. Fitzhugh

Stephen McKinley Henderson as Lester

Judd Hirsch as Mr. Simon

Téa Leoni as Special Agent Claire Denham

Michael Peña as Enrique Dev’Reaux

Gabourey Sidibe as Odessa

©Universal Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), Enrique Dev’Reaux (Michael Peña), Charlie (Casey Affleck) and Slide (Eddie Murphy) in Tower Heist.

Our reviews below:


Tower Heist Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

The first thing you should know about Brett Ratner’s stylish action comedy Tower Heist is that it is one of the most purely entertaining movies I’ve seen over the last few months.  Say what you will about the set-up or over the top final sequence, but this movie gets the job done quick and easy when it comes to offering a lot of fun at a big theatre.  This is also the disgruntled employees taking back the workforce comedy that finally washes away the bad taste left by the offensive Horrible Bosses this past summer.

Manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), elevator operator Enrique (Michael Peña), doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson) and maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) make up the main staff at a New York condominium tower.  Six years ago, all of their investments and retirement funds were held for supposed safe keeping in the bank account of Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).  When Shaw is busted for financial fraud of epic proportions, the workers and displaced resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) team up to take back the savings that he kept hidden in his penthouse on the top floor.  They enlist the help of Slide (Eddie Murphy), an ex-convict who knows the ins and outs of pulling off a robbery.

Their plan is to pull off an elaborate heist while the entire city is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  They will enter the building while the giant Snoopy balloon is floating down the street, and escape unnoticed before the end of the event.  There are so many twists and turns here that I wouldn’t even think of giving any away, but Tower Heist goes in so many different directions that it’s no small feat on the part of the cast that every single scene is so much fun.  After a string of bad live action movies, this also represents a genuine return to form for Eddie Murphy.  His character gets away with some outrageously funny dialogue, and plays well alongside the ensemble comedic cast.

With average people marching the streets in protest of the 1% of bankers that are being paid gross amounts of money despite the economic downturn, Tower Heist truly is a movie of our times.  Are you going to have to take a leap of logic during the elaborate heist sequence?  Of course.  One of the most memorable scenes comes when the characters dangle off the side of the building, making those terrified of heights hide behind their hands and putting everyone else on the edge of their seats.  But these are all elements that make Tower Heist one of the most purely entertaining movies of the year.  See this one with a big audience and you are pretty much guaranteed to have a great time.


Tower Heist Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

In Tower Heist, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the manager at ‘The Tower’ – a huge apartment complex for the very rich and well off.  Josh and his staff run the place like clockwork – knowing everyone who lives there’s schedule, and running their errands for them.  Because of this, he is known as a good manager, and has a good relationship with the residents of the tower, even playing chess online against the resident of the pent house, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).  But when Shaw gets put on house arrest for fraud, the employees of the hotel discover through the FBI that all of their pensions (which were invested in Shaw’s trust fund) are now completely dry.

After an incident gets Josh and two other employees, Charlie (Casey Afflek) and Enrique (Michael Peña) fired, they team up with doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson), evicted father Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), and maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), to pull of a heist by robbing Shaw’s safe to repay themselves the money they lost.  The problem is none of them have ever robbed anything before, so Josh enlists help from ‘Slide’ (Eddie Murphy), a small-time crook who will teach them the criminal ways of pulling this off.

This is a classic heist film, so despite the obvious criminal behaviour, we are rooting for them to pull it off.  The characters are all likable and have distinct personalities.  Murphy gets a ton of very funny (if a little rude) lines, and Stiller plays as a great straight man to him.  The script is sharp and witty throughout and everything comes together nicely – it is one of those films that although disbelief has to be suspended slightly, it is a really fun ride.  The last act (the heist) is especially a fun treat – and that’s after the entertaining build-up.  For those 12+, go check this one out in theatres – it’s a perfect one to be shared on the big screen.


Tower Heist Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

What would you do if your employer ripped you off?  In Tower Heist, a group of people plan an elaborate heist to steal back the money that was rightfully theirs.  When sleazy billionaire building owner Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) defrauds his employees, they decide something must be done.  So Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) teams with co-workers to infiltrate Shaw’s penthouse while the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade goes on outside.

Their mission is a hilarious adventure that leaves you on the edge of your seat.  The casting in this movie is perfect.  Every line is memorably funny, with perfect delivery.  The heist, while farfetched, is great fun to watch.  Tower Heist is a fun and exciting comedy that anyone from teens to mature adults will enjoy.


Tower Heist Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Tower Heist is a modern-day Robin Hood story with a tall tower substituting for the castle, disgruntled employees as Robin and his merry men, and the riches being stolen pension funds from hard-working hotel staff.  The Robin Hood in Tower Heist is Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) a hard-working, loyal hotel manager at the Tower in New York.  When his super-rich boss, hotel owner Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is taken in by the FBI for suspicion of financial mismanagement, Josh is in shock.  When the staff members realize they may never see their pension funds again, Josh assures them he’ll sort things out even if it means taking matters into his own hands.  That’s where the real fun begins.

With the help of several employees including front desk clerk Charlie (Casey Affleck), elevator operator Enrique Dev’reaux (Michael Peña) doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson), chambermaid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) and recently evicted resident Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), Josh comes up with a plan.  The heist is to find and take back the missing millions.  Since none of them have any criminal experience, Josh enlists his local neighbourhood criminal, Slide (a hilarious Eddie Murphy) to work out the details and put them into play.

The heist itself is ridiculously unbelievable and really funny.  The scenes with Shaw’s prize red Ferrari are some of the funniest.  What makes Tower Heist so fun and entertaining is the incredibly talented cast.  Eddie Murphy is at his best with Ben Stiller as his straight man.  Alan Alda’s deadpan delivery as the arrogant financial bad guy is fun to watch.  But the surprise for me was Gabourey Sidibe as the Jamaican chambermaid with nimble fingers.  Sidibe doesn’t miss a beat in her delivery.

With the heist taking place during the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, Tower Heist is sure to be on people’s list of movies to see for the holiday.  This is solid gold entertainment for teens and adults.


Tower Heist Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Tower Heist is about the attempt by former employees to steal back some of the money ripped off by the tycoon holding their pensions, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Arrested by FBI agent Denham (Téa Leoni) for a Ponzi scheme, Shaw is under house arrest in the penthouse of “The Tower”, whose brilliantly attentive staff under Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) includes doorman Lester (Stephen Henderson), concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), elevator operator Mr. Dev’Reaux (Michael Peña) and cleaner Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe). With the help of evicted tenant and laid off securities analyst Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and Josh’s neighbour and petty criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy), they break into Shaw’s penthouse safe during the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Directed by Brett Ratner, Tower Heist (mainly filmed at the opulent 52 storey 5-star flagship Trump International Hotel and Towers across from New York’s Central Park at Columbus Circle) is lots of fun. The fine cast is well served by a witty script that nicely draws out their characters (a good comeback for Eddie Murphy, for example), and without resorting to violence the admittedly improbable caper has enough suspense and twists to keep us right to the end of the 104 minute running time.


Consensus: With a strong comedic ensemble cast that includes Ben Stiller in classic form and a hilarious comeback performance from Eddie Murphy, Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist sometimes asks the audience to take a leap of logic but delivers an incredibly entertaining action comedy in return.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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