This is going to be a fairly quick review, as I don't have a ton to say about this film and there isn't much more to this than what you see in the trailer.
Tower Heist was a movie that I initially wasn't even planning on seeing this weekend and really wasn't looking forward to all that much. I didn't think the trailers looked particularly funny. Actually, the first half of the trailer looked like more a good drama until Eddie Murphy showed up and then it devolved and I was like, 'Oh, it's going to be one of those movies'.
Like I said before, there really isn't all that much to the story. Ben Stiller is a manager at an exclusive, high-end apartment complex in New York. His staff is meant to be there to cater the owners and anticipate their needs. Although, there are many other people that live in this complex, the 'main guy' is played by Alan Alda, who has lived in the complex for many years and actually had a good rapport with most of the staff.
One day, Alan Alda's character is arrested by the FBI and it is found that he has squandered the pension of the workers of the apartment complex, among other clients. It is stated that the pension fund was actually his smallest client, so many others were screwed over as well. I don't recall if it is explain exactly how the money is lost, but it's clear Alda's character is meant to represent some kind of Bernie Madoff-type. What's not shown in the trailer is that Stiller asked Alda to invest the pension fund as favor, so now he feels responsible for losing his co-workers money.
The head of the FBI investigation, led by a still sexy Tea Leoni, mentions to Stiller that there's a good $20 million or so of Alda's money that's unaccounted for, and the most likely location of this money is his apartment. Stiller decides that because of their inside knowledge of the apartment complex, that he and a few of his co-workers have the best chance of finding and stealing this money for themselves. As they don't have much experience with criminal activity, Stiller recruits and old neighborhood friend, played by....you guessed it...Eddie Murphy.
From this point it's mainly what you saw in the trailer. This is a typical heist movie, with the usual twists and misdirects. There's nothing new here or particularly smart about it. What made it entertaining, was that it was actually funny in parts. I chuckled more than a few times. The audience I was with was really into it as well, probably even more than I was.
The cast is good and worked well together. You pretty much like everyone. It's nice to see Ben Stiller not playing the same schmuck he's been playing in most his recent movies. The cast is rounded out by Casey Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe, Matthew Broderick, and Michael Pena (who seemingly has the ability to always make me laugh, especially when he plays characters like this). You even get a small role from Judd Hirsch.
I know the trailers advertise this as an Eddie Murphy movie, but it didn't feel like he was in it all that much. The scenes you see of him in the trailer are pretty much all of the times he's actually in the movie. Maybe I just wanted to see more of him. It felt like this was the 'old', fast-talking Eddie Murphy that we all fell in love with back in the 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop days. His performance made me nostalgic for that and I wanted more of it.
Tower Heist was directed by Brett Ratner, who isn't a favorite director of mine. I think most of his movies are silly, and I still haven't forgiven him for X-Men: The Last Stand. However, his style worked well for this. The writers of this (Jeff Nathanson and Ted Griffin) have been behind movies like Ocean's Eleven, Matchstick Men and Catch Me if You Can. You can really see the Ocean's Eleven influence on this.
Maybe it's because I had really low expectations, but I didn't think Tower Heist was all that bad. It's not a particularly smart movie, but it's not dumb to the point of being insulting. It's actually pretty fun and inoffensive for the most part. If you saw this as a matinee, I don't think you'd feel like you got ripped off, but if you rented this, I bet you'd love it.