Strong supporting cast steals scenes in ‘Tower Heist’

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy star in the film as Josh Kovacs, the heist gang leader and the thief Slide, Kovacs' childhood friend. These well-known actors provide some of the humor, but their performances are truly bolestered by the supporting cast. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
By Ben Dauber
Contributing Writer
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Every year, as Thanksgiving rolls around, a handful of family films seem to be released in an attempt to grab our attention as we sit in our grandma’s house the day before the big meal. They’re films that everyone can watch. They usually have a love story and deal with emotions that families can relate to. They have cheap laughs and happy endings and, even though it embarrasses me to admit it, make you feel a little warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Tower Heist securely falls into this category. With more gimmick and flash than actual substance, the film is entertaining up to a point, but lacks substance. And as far as the family/holiday film genre goes, it is a solid, but not excellent addition to the collection.

The cast is comprised of past-their-prime comic icons like Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. But, despite playing the same characters they play in every movie, the two still manage to acquire their fair share of laughs. Stiller, who plays the neurotic and constantly underestimated hero of the film Josh Kovacs, is complimented by the brash and extroverted humor of Murphy as his childhood friend and small-time criminal Slide.

The film centers on the hardworking staff of The Tower, a condominium complex that houses New York’s ultra-wealthy. Josh Kovacs is the manager of the gang that spearheads the heist when they find out their pensions have been defrauded by the excellently evil Arthur Shaw, played by Alan Alda. The gang, a band of outcasts with hearts of gold, help Kovacs plan the impossible robbery of Shaw’s penthouse in order to get the working folks of The Tower their money back. With the help of Slide, the rag-tag crew goes through an entertaining series of criminal training exercises.

Even though their style of humor is nothing new, Stiller and Murphy still deliver enough entertainment to push the film through its less interesting points. Where I feel the film excelled was in putting a twist on some of the basics. For instance, there were new spins on the execution of an otherwise classic film robbery by incorporating new problems and nuances I had never seen before. The comedy element also put a different spin on the normal film heist. The strong supporting cast helped to bolster the performances of Stiller and Murphy. Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick and Tea Leoni are just a few of the other stars who rounded out the film.

Without telling you too much about the film (because it is the surprise and sense of closure you get and the single use-only comic ploys that make it worth watching), I can say it undoubtedly provides the classic Hollywood happy ending we all expect.

A cinematic achievement it is not, but there is something to be said for a film that you can watch with mom and dad without blushing. Unless you plan on entertaining your family, I may not spend the money to see it in theaters. However, if you get the stomach flu and run out of sick-day Netflix options, you could do much worse than Tower Heist.