It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Tea
Leoni, Alan Alda, Casey
Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe, Judd
Hirsch, Michael Peña
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Brett Ratner
Executive Producer: Bill Carraro, Karen Kehela
Producer: Brian Grazer, Eddie Murphy,
Writer: Jeff Nathanson, Ted Griffin
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie brings back Eddie Murphy to the style of movie that made him a superstar. Here, he plays a jive-talking career criminal named Slide. Slide’s enlisted by an unlikely trio of cowardly losers to guide them through an elaborate robbery of a corrupt investment guru who stole lots of money from his innocent investors, including all the workers in his building. That trio, played by Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, and Michael Pena, are coworkers in America’s most extravagant residential tower. They want to get revenge on Bernie Madoff-style investment guru Arthur Shaw, played by Alan Alda. Shaw occupies the building’s penthouse. He lost the building staff’s pension plan when his Ponzi scheme collapsed in ruins.
Ben Stiller’s character, Josh Kovacs, the building manager, confronts Shaw by taking a golf club to his fancy car and gets fired. Josh learns Shaw, who’s under house arrest by the FBI, has $20 million stashed in his secret safe. Josh suspects where the safe might be located. So, Josh and his two buddies, team up with Slide, a building maid, and an evicted tenant to steal the money and reimburse Shaw’s victims, including themselves. They concoct a wild, hilarious scheme to get the money, but, as usual with this kind of movie, things don’t go as planned.
TOWER HEIST is expertly written by what may be the two best caper writers working today: Jeff Nathanson of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and Ted Griffin of OCEAN’S ELEVEN. Their script not only combines an ingenious crime, funny dialogue, and well-rounded characters, but also hits a bullseye for timeliness by tapping into the Bernie Madoff scandal and the current banking snafu. The good news is that it avoids any of the politically correct lies against Wall Street that currently permeate leftist rhetoric around the world. That said, the movie clearly sides with the people working in the service jobs at the fancy apartment complex. Of course, the fact that the movie avoids becoming a political diatribe has irritated some secular film critics in early reviews, but 99% of these critics are fools. In fact, contrary to what some of them said, the movie turned out to be quite entertaining.
TOWER HEIST has a moral component that other heist movies don’t have. The villain has made his money by stealing the investment dreams of other people. In the movie, the protagonists find out that legal channels of getting back their money are closed, but they find a way to get back what was stolen from them and the other workers. They are also ultimately quite generous with their takings, ensuring that all the other ripped-off employees have a shot at the retirement they were planning before the guy stole their money. Finally, one of the protagonists is faced with a decision to sacrifice his own liberty in exchange for clearing the names of the others.
Director Brett Ratner (the RUSH HOUR trilogy and X-MEN 3) deserves credit for bringing back the bouncy, fun spirit of Eddie Murphy’s 1980s movies. Although he and his cohorts should be commended for not making the movie an R-rated festival of “f” words, there’s still too much other foul language, including some “s” words and a few strong profanities. The foul language is more noticeable at the beginning of the picture when the filmmakers and actors are introducing the characters. There’s also some brief sexual innuendo in a couple scenes. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends strong, extreme caution for TOWER HEIST.
TOWER HEIST is expertly written and directed. It has a moral component some other heist movies don’t have. The gang of thieves is trying to get back the money stolen from them in the first place. Also, one of them ends up sacrificing his own freedom for the sake of the others. That said, the PG-13 movie still contains a lot of obscenities and brief sexual innuendo. Thus, TOWER HEIST warrants strong or extreme caution.