{2jtab: Movie Review}

Tower Heist - Movie Review


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3 Stars

Riding the crest of an economically dissatisfied wave of thought that shows no sign of breaking, Tower Heist spins its timely yarn about some middle class broken down luxury apartment workers who decide to strike a big one against a Bernie Madoff-type character.  They’ve lost their pensions and now want to steal a cool $20 million.  This is the reality the film presents; one not unlike our own tough times.  It’s a fun and uneven movie – never completely trusting of itself – but worthy of a look if you find yourself in position to do so.

Written by Jeff Nathanson and Ted Griffin, Tower Heist reads as a “light as a feather” reworking of the great caper flicks from the likes of Sydney Lumet and director Steven Soderbergh.  Of course, the heavy formula has been tweaked to make it feel more contemporary and, unfortunately, less lush.  Admittedly, Tower Heist is Ratner’s best made film due to its stripped-down scale.  It’s also his least ambitious.  For Ratner, it’s an ironic realization of the type of movie he should continue to make and the type he should avoid. Ultimately, that all depends on how you, the viewer, feel about spending money on an agreeable time waster.

Wall Street billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda in a welcomed performance of slime and sludge), under FBI house arrest for stealing millions from investors, is our Madoff.  Our heroes - Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller), Charlie (Casey Affleck), Dev'reaux (Michael Peña), and Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) – have recently lost their pensions to his Ponzi scheme and, desperate to recoup their losses, justify stealing their money back from him.  They – being only maids, maintenance guys, doormen, elevator operators, and concierges - quickly realize they are in over their heads.

Fast-talking Slide (Eddie Murphy), recently bailed out by Josh, and bankrupt businessman Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) are enlisted to help the gang in their criminal activities at the Columbus Circle high-rise while avoiding Special Agent Denham (Téa Leoni) and her ongoing investigation of Shaw.

Because most of the movie is devoted to the heist’s big set-up little attention is paid to the follow-through.  One shouldn’t expect the movie to be memorable.  Much like Murphy’s performance, Tower Heist is completely in the moment.  From scenes of a tower-dangling vintage Ferrari to Sidibe’s dirty-talk cracks to Murphy, the movie only aims for instantaneous amusement.  Ratner’s by-the-numbers movie, while grossly uncomplicated, is aided with good texture from Dante Spinotti’s camerawork, but it never completely surrenders to the heist formula or toward its luckless characters and feels a bit too inconsequential for its own good.

The cast is strong, but the logic of the caper – when the heist hinges on everyone in the towers dropping what they are doing to look at the 10-story Snoopy float during the Thanksgiving Parade – falls apart.  Yes, there is always a bit of an unbelievable aspect to the caper flick.  Always.  Here, though, Ratner and company take a bit of a leap that burns out in the film’s final lap.  If only Murphy had more to do...

The best scenes of the movie belong to Alda and the foul-mouthed Murphy (who also served as producer).  In one of his best roles since Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy almost makes up for the last ten years of his on-screen performances.  Almost.  Slide is easily a riff on his Buddy Love character from The Nutty Professor and, while funny, it's a bit tame.  The comedic performance easily could have earned the film an “R” rating had Murphy and Ratner been interested in bringing the Murphy persona back and not solely in playing it safe for the kiddos.

With Occupy Wall Street engulfing cities across America, Tower Heist’s echoed reality makes the film only a bit funnier.  It’s ‘good to laugh during the tough times’ seems to be the simple mantra of Brett Ratner’s film and, while you might know better, one can’t help but let Tower Heist tickle the old funny bone from time to time.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Tower Heist - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual content.
: Brett Rattner
: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson
Cast: Ben Stiller; Eddie Murphy; Casey Affleck; Alan Alda; Matthew Broderick
Genre: Comedy | Crime
Ordinary guys. An extraordinary robbery.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You people are working stiffs, clock-punchers. Easily replaced."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: November 4, 2011
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 21, 2012

Synopsis: Queens native Josh Kovacs (Stiller) has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. In the swankiest unit atop Josh’s building, Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is under house arrest after being caught stealing two billion from his investors. The hardest hit among those he defrauded? The tower staffers whose pensions he was entrusted to manage.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Tower Heist - Movie Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 21, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/DVS Dolby Digital 2.02, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Canadian) and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); DVD disc

The AVC-encode and the DTS-HD 5.1 sound are amazing. The film looks spectacular and opulent, and the sound is immersive, especially during a dangling Ferrari sequence. Special features are generous, and common to Ratner’s other offerings, with a video diary and gag reel, etc.


Bonus features that appear on the both the Blu-ray™ and DVD versions include:

  • Two Alternate Endings – not seen in theatres!
  • Hilarious Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Plotting Tower Heist—Following the structure of a classic caper movie in three acts, director Brett Ratner, producer Brian Grazer and the entire cast bring this heist film to a whole new level. Viewers will learn how the project started, as well as meet the screenwriters and cast.  This exclusive feature reveals the secrets of the set design, special effects and more, including what it took to create the iconic sequence involving Steve McQueen’s car!
  • Feature Commentary with director Brett Ratner, editor Mark Helfrich and co-writers Ted Griffin & Jeff Nathanson

The following features are exclusive to Blu-ray™:

Tower Heist Video Diary – Director Brett Ratner takes fans through the filmmaking process with these personal video production diaries from the set.


  • Picture-in-Picture – featuring pre-visualization and storyboard comparisons of some the film’s most exciting scenes.
  • The Music of Tower Heist

Pocket BLU™ App: The popular free pocket BLU™ app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad®, Android™ tablets, PC and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of the devices' larger screens and high resolution displays.

  • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
  • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
  • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
  • Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™.  They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
  • Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.

UNIVERSAL'S SECOND SCREEN, that allows viewers to control, interact and explore Tower Heist with features right on a networked tablet or computer, in synchronization with the movie on the television screen! While the movie plays, experience features such as:

  • Flick View: Interact with the movie; move content from the Tablet to the TV screen; and compare storyboards, animatics and other executing content by “Flicking” them from on their tablet to their TV screen, simply by gesturing their fingers upwards on their tablets.
  • Behind the Scenes w/Flick View: Viewers get an all access look at the making of the film featuring interviews with cast and crew.
  • Storyboards w/Flick View: Viewers will be able to take a closer look at the storyboards created for some of the amazing sequences in the film.
  • The Music of Tower Heist—Songs from the Tower Heist soundtrack are highlighted with the option to add to a playlist and purchase.
  • BD-LIVE™ - Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content, and more!

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