Tower Heist was not a good film. It might boast an all-star cast, relatively speaking, and star Ben Stiller, one of the finest comedic actors around, but it isn't funny and we found ourselves cringing at the supposed “jokes.” The humor – there was so little of it, and it was mostly quite weak. Tapping into the nation's collective anger directed at the rich Stiller is Josh Kovacs, a luxury condominium building manager who takes his job very seriously. A resident and friend of Josh's at the building where he works is wealthy businessman Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Shaw is caught attempting to flee just as everyone learns that he is being accused of losing all his money and all of his clients' money – millions of dollars – in a Ponzi scheme. The money lost includes all of the pensions of the employees at the building as Josh had trusted Shaw and asked him to invest their money.
Josh is determined to make it up to all the employees. He thinks Shaw has hidden twenty million dollars in a safe in his apartment. He convinces his fellow employees Charlie (Casey Affleck), the new guy (Michael Pena) and a former tenant of the building who needs the money (Matthew Broderick) to help him break in and steal the money. Alas, none of these guys have any thieving experience. But Josh knows someone who does – a guy who is always in and out of jail, lives on the same block as him and yells at him every once in awhile, Slide (Eddie Murphy). After Josh bails him out of jail, Slide is suspicious and thinks Josh is a cop, and a scene in a car when Josh reminds Slide that the two went to nursery school together (and Slide remembers Josh as 'seizure boy') is perhaps the funniest scene in the film.
Josh explains the situation to him and why they need his guidance and Murphy eventually agrees to go along with the plan. The cast is mostly male, so to bring some women into it, Josh recruits Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), another employee at the building who knows how to pick locks, and there's also the attractive FBI agent who's investing Shaw, who starts up a romance with Josh (Tea Leoni). We've never been particularly partial to Eddie Murphy, but he was the best thing on display in this film. He was making actual jokes – funny ones, too – unlike everyone else in the cast, who didn't really seem to be trying, though they definitely didn't have much to work with.
But you could tell Murphy was actually making an effort to bring some humor and energy to his scenes, and it worked, because his screen time, though light, was the funniest. We found outselves wanting more of Murphy, and how often do you say that lately? It was a slight return to the Murphy humor of old – before he resorted to fat suits to make people laugh, and it was nice to see. Murphy still has it, which was a surprise to us, because he's been doing terrible children's movies for so long. Based on this he should make a return to more adult films.
This film was obviously meant to be a hit with a populist audience. It has all the requirements for a mainstream Hollywood hit – big-time producer, Brian Grazer – check, big-shot director, Brett Ratner – check, an all-star cast – check. It obviously had a massive budget – and was meant to make that back and much more. It might, it might not; either way, it doesn't deserve to. The filmmakers forgot one not so tiny detail – the script. As it stands, Tower Heist is just ciminal.