Genre: Action comedy
Premise: After a Bernie Madoff-type Ponzi schemer (Alan Alda) bilks the employees of an upscale residential complex out of their hard-earned pensions, a motley crew led by Ben Stiller seeks revenge by breaking into his unit and stealing the $20 million he's got stashed away. A small-time criminal (Eddie Murphy) helps the gang execute their daring heist.
Behind-the-Scenes: Directed by Brett Ratner, who in a spectacular PR meltdown this week, just stepped down from producing the Oscars. Murphy followed, and will no longer be hosting. So much for a Tower Heist reunion at the Oscars. Probably the only time "Oscars" and "Tower Heist" should be mentioned in the same sentence.
The Good: That's not to say Tower Heist is bad. It's actually better than the previews suggest. The funky '70s-inflected score sets just the right mood. Stiller tones down his manic shtick and gives a likeable, easygoing lead performance. The timing couldn't be better for a movie about a Wall Street fat cat getting his comeuppance. Murphy finally ditches the lame-ass kids' flicks and goes back to his hyper, motormouthed comic roots. The supporting cast (Matthew Brodrick, Casey Affleck, etc.) is solid.
The Bad: Murphy's barely in it - registering what felt like about 30 mins. of screen time. The heist is somewhat original, but flatly executed and kind of monotonous. There is an alarming lack of jokes and action sequences for a so-called "action comedy." Takes a bit too long to get going while it's setting up all the characters and their individual quirks/issues.
Should You See It?: Sure. Unless you're a total anti-Hollywood-type who hates mainstream filmmaking, Tower Heist offers a pleasant enough 2-hour diversion.
Rating: *** out of 5 stars.