"It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief"

Content: -2 Discretion advised for adults.

What You Need To Know:

TOWER HEIST stars Eddie Murphy as a jive-talking criminal who agrees to help a group of people steal back money stolen from their pension plan. They want to get revenge on Arthur Shaw, a Bernie Madoff-style investment guru. Shaw occupies the penthouse in a fancy building in New York City. He lost the building staff’s pension plan when his financial Ponzi scheme collapsed in ruins. The building manager teams up with Murphy’s criminal, the concierge, the bellhop, a maid, and an evicted tenant to steal the $20 million that Shaw’s hidden away in his safe. They concoct a wild, funny scheme to get the money. As usual with this kind of movie, things don’t go as planned.

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.


(B, C, RoRo, FR, Ho, LLL, VV, S, N, AA, M) Light moral, redemptive worldview marred by some strong Romantic elements and a degree of antinomianism or lawlessness but, eventually, the villain is punished by the law, plus some crude jokes about minor lesbian staff members in one scene but loony radical homosexuals might call the jokes “homophobic”; at least 80 obscenities and profanities (no “f” words); action violence includes gunshot strikes an object and reveals a plot twist, several characters pull guns on each other, robbers smash a hole through an apartment, man uses golf club to damage a million-dollar car owned by villain, woman shoves cart into FBI agent to knock him out, two car chases with vehicles smashing through locked gates and hurtling the wrong way through traffic; light crude sexual jokes include one scene with sexual innuendo where a woman flirts with a male robber, one scene with jokes about minor lesbian staff members at an apartment building, man steals panties from a Victoria’s Secret store, and brief crude references in one scene to a mother soon to give birth; upper male nudity when man goes swimming in rooftop pool; alcohol use and drunkenness; no smoking or illegal drug use; and, woman plans to use a knock-out drug in a piece of cake but the plan is foiled, veteran criminal orders three amateurs planning heist against a rich thief to steal $50 worth of merchandise apiece from mall stores within 15 minutes and they do so, deceit, protagonists plan to steal back money that investment manager embezzled from a pension plan.

More Detail:

TOWER HEIST is a wildly entertaining crime caper comedy. Sadly, it has a lot of PG-13 foul language that warrants extreme caution.

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.