Tower Heist

8 11 2011

I thought comedy movies were supposed to make you laugh. In Tower Heist, I could count the number of genuinely funny moments on one hand. With an illogical plot and emotionless acting, Tower Heist is one of the worst ‘comedy’ movies I’ve seen all year.

The plot is easy enough to understand. Billionaire Arthur Shaw has just swindled half of New York out of their life savings using a Ponzi scheme. While he sits in his comfortable apartment looking down at the city below, three guys decide to personally reclaim their life savings, vigilante style.

Sounds cool up to this point, right? The plot is certainly relevant today, and I’m sure many of those who currently occupy cities around the world would leap at the chance to rob a corrupt billionaire of the ill-gotten fortune.


Unfortunately, the movie’s interesting premise goes to waste. As we watch the four lead characters plan the heist, the movie quickly devolves into cheap, slapstick humor. And I’m using the term ‘humor’ generously.

Despite having a star-studded cast that includes Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, and Matthew Broderick, Tower Heist never comes close to achieving its true potential. Ben Stiller seems bored and moody as former hotel manager Josh Kovacs, and reads his lines with bored disinterest.

Meanwhile, Matthew Broderick’s character is just a sad, washed-up Wall Street executive. He complains about being driven towards male prostitution to pay his bills, and gets forcibly evicted from his apartment at the tower. His scenes end up feeling more depressing than funny.

The first half of Tower Heist generally makes sense. As we head towards the climax, however, any sense quickly flies out the window. Cars start driving up and down elevator shafts, FBI agents are miraculously oblivious to the world around them, and Eddie Murphy starts shouting at nobody in particular.


And yes, I know that comedy movies are often unrealistic, and that the point of the plot is to create funny situations. However, in Tower Heist, the climax doesn’t even begin to make sense, and, worst of all, it doesn’t even lead to many funny moments. Is it too much to ask a movie to obey the laws of physics?

Small bright spots, like Alan Alda’s portrayal of super-billionaire Arthur Shaw, do not balance out the rest of the movie’s faults. At least there are a number of large-scale action sequences that justify Tower Heist’s $85 million budget.

As it stands, Tower Heist is short on both laughs and common sense. While the ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor’ storyline is fun, the movie quickly derails. I entered the theater hoping for something like Ocean’s Eleven, and I left feeling confused and bored.

1 star out of 5