A comedy about working-class stiffs who stick it to the Wall Street-type who stole their savings? Talk about ripped from today's headlines. Talk about being in sync with the national mood. Talk about Eddie Murphy funny again, finally.
Tower Heist is a winning comedy about getting even. The is perfect, delivering double-takes and one-liners so well that you don't notice how clunky the actual caper in this caper comedy is.
Ben Stiller is Josh, the ever-efficient building manager in "the priciest real estate in North America," New York's swank high-rise condo complex The Tower. It's where the richest of the rich live. And Josh has drilled and drilled his staff on anticipating their every need.
"We're all about discretion here," Josh lectures the new guy (Michael Peña). No client has to open his or her own door, no cheating husband ever has to worry that he won't be warned if the wife is coming home early.
Guys like fund manager Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) are kept in coddled comfort. Josh is the "fixer" who makes The Tower run like a well-oiled machine, and his employees adore him for it.
But the feds arrest Shaw for financial wrongdoing, and Josh has to admit to his staff that he invested their retirement money with the swindler. As they take stock of working lives for which they have nothing to show, some think of suicide. Josh, feeling guilty, thinks of revenge: stealing the money back.
This Brett Ratner comedy was cast with able role players. Stiller does this good-at-his-job guy well. Casey Affleck is spot-on as Josh's lazy brother-in-law.
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) is hilariously on the make as a Jamaican maid who lost her savings and might lose her work visa if she can't find a husband. Peña, of The Lincoln Lawyer, is a hoot. It takes talent to play this clueless.
Matthew Broderick plays a nebbish, a laid-off Merrill Lynch manager evicted from The Tower. He lost his job, his home and his wife. He'll help with the heist.
But if they're after Shaw's hidden millions, they need more than people who know the building and Wall Street. They need a thief. They need Eddie Murphy, the Murphy of 1983's Trading Places: manic, mouthy and menacing.
Téa Leoni is an FBI agent on the Shaw case who's ready to flirt with Josh, especially after she's had a few drinks.
Alda makes a great patronizing patrician. He plays online chess with Josh but never lets him forget his place, demanding that Josh personally deliver his meals because "I don't want the help spitting in my coffee."
The one-liners pop, and the cast delivers. The caper itself becomes secondary when the message hits this close to home.