Next up is "Tower Heist," a complete blast from director Brett Ratner. Ben Stiller leads an all-star cast as Josh, the longtime manager of a luxury high-rise in Manhattan. When the financial guru who lives in the penthouse, played by Alan Alda, is charged with stealing billions from his investors -- including the hardworking tower staff -- Josh comes up with a plan to get their money back.
That's Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck and Michael Pena as Josh's unqualified accomplices. These people don't know how to steal anything. The fact that Alda's character is under house arrest complicates their plan further. So Josh enlists the help of a low-level criminal named Slide, whom he's known since childhood, to give them some tips. He's played with classic, fast-paced comic energy by Eddie Murphy.
At the same time, Josh strikes up an unlikely flirtation with the tough-as-nails FBI agent on the case, played by Tea Leoni. She grew up in working-class Queens, like Alda's character, and she's disgusted by the flashy swindler he's become.
"Tower Heist" harkens to the big studio action-comedies of the 1980s, the kind of movies that Murphy made his name on, like "48 Hours" and "Beverly Hills Cop." It can be both silly and serious -- it's shot beautifully but also feels substantial. These feel like actual people doing actual stunts _ especially during the heist itself, which takes place during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's slick and crowd pleasing -- even more successfully so than Ratner's "Rush Hour" movies -- and it couldn't be more relevant. My thumb is up surprisingly.
IGNATIY: You’re spot on about the comparisons to “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours.” I mean this is such a throwback to you know Eddie Murphy in the 1980s. This is a performance that he hasn’t really given in about 25 years. My thumb is also up. I think this movie is a lot of fun um it’s really lively. I don’t think it’s quite as substantial as you think it is.
CHRISTY: I don’t know it’s lighted really beautifully. It feels very relevant I mean Alda could be Bernie Madoff, and in that regard, this feels like it could be happening right now.
IGNATIY: I think the overlap with Madoff; I think it’s a nice gimmick. I think the film is at best kind of paying lip service to the financial crisis.
CHRISTY: No, but these characters have struggles. They have back-stories.
They all feel very real.
IGNATIY: No, no I’ll give you that. The characters are much better developed than you know than you usually see in film like this, which is part of the reason why I like it. It’s got, it’s got a lively energy. It’s got for the most part a very good cast. Um I think Matthew Broderick is very good as kind of that you know depressed bankrupt banker.
CHRISTY: And his story is very relevant as well.
IGNATIY: Yeah and Stiller is good. I mean Eddie Murphy is great in this. I think the only weak link really is um Gabourey Sidibe, and I think it’s the accent. She plays a character; she plays a Jamaican maid. The Jamaican accent slips in and out, and it really bogs down what could have been a pretty funny performance.
CHRISTY: Supposedly, she grew up with Jamaican kids in New York and this is her tribute to them, so it’s authentic in theory.
IGNATIY: Tribute, more like…it’s authentic in theory.