Thanksgiving is one of the major holidays in America, when shops close and families come together around a dinner table laden with turkey and all the trimmings.
New York City celebrates with an annual parade of giant balloons and these colourful festivities on the streets of the Big Apple provide a perfect cover for a daring robbery in Brett Ratner’s action-packed comedy.
Ted Griffin, who penned the screenplay for the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ remake with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, returns to larcenous activities here in a script co-written by Jeff Nathanson.
‘Tower Heist’ is a largely entertaining if completely preposterous romp, especially when it comes to the climactic theft.
Griffin and Nathanson wilfully ignore the laws of physics and for a final flourish, they permit characters to accomplish an impossible feat in a similarly impossible short span of time to ensure that the good guys have a fighting chance of recouping their stolen money.
It’s a pity the screenwriters cheat because it dissipates dramatic tension and negates any hint of jeopardy.
The unlikely mastermind is Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), proud manager of The Tower, one of the most luxurious and tightly secured residences in New York City.
The average apartment costs $5.6m, with stunning views of the city and Central Park.
Josh has been in charge for more than 10 years and takes care of his staff. However, one wrong decision ruins everything.
Josh entrusts the workers’ pensions to Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), who is placed under house arrest after he is caught stealing $2bn from investors.
The employees’ futures are gone, along with the entire life savings of retiring door man, Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson).
Convinced Arthur must have a multimillion-dollar safety net concealed in his penthouse, Josh approaches petty thief Slide (Eddie Murphy) to plot the perfect heist.
While Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) keeps a close eye on Shaw, Josh and Slide initiate their daring scheme, aided by Josh’s brother-in-law and concierge Charlie (Casey Affleck), sassy housemaid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe), lazy bellhop Dev’Reaux (Michael Pena) and recently evicted resident Chase (Matthew Broderick).
‘Tower Heist’ gallops along at a fair lick.
Stiller is a likeable hero, risking everything to ensure the staff aren’t swindled out of their dues.
Broderick, Affleck and Sidibe, sporting a credible Jamaican accent as the sassy housemaid with safe-cracking abilities, lend solid support, while Alda essays a fittingly loathsome villain with influential friends in the right places.
However, Murphy threatens to sink the film every time he opens his mouth and launches into his high volume, flamboyant schtick.
Ratner orchestrates action sequences with aplomb, careening through those gaping holes in the script at breakneck speed.
Star Rating: 2½