Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tower Heist

There are a few things in life that I'm quite vocal about and one of those things on the top of this list is my extreme disgust for Eddie Murphy and basically all movies he has ever had a role in, with Shrek as a specific exception. This should explain why I wasn't too excited when I saw Eddie Murphy next to Ben Stiller on the movie poster of Tower Heist. Nonetheless, I put my Murphy judgements aside for 90 minutes and gave this one a proper chance.

To be quite honest, it was a movie risk I'm happy I took, as Tower Heist treats its audience to a fresh take on the heist movie archetype, instilling it with charm, humour and well, Ben Stiller, playing the role of lead instigator quite marvellously, as director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 3, X-Men: The last stand, Red Dragon) manages to tap into Stiller's best qualities as both a serious and comedic heavyweight. Looking at Ratner’s film credits, the film’s tight balance between serious and funny shouldn’t come as much of a surprise...

Joining Stiller is a strong cast helping to fill the runtime with continuous laughter that includes Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Judd Hirsch and Gabourney Sidibe, best known for her standout role in the movie Precious. What makes the cast work in a big way is the sheer unexpectedness of the group, with actors like Casey Affleck and Gabourney Sidibe as very unlikely options for a comedy of any breed. And then of course there’s Eddie Murphy that for the first time in a decade plays a realistic character that cannot speak to animals or is so extremely fat that it’s just sad, not funny. It’s this risky mix of old comedic heavyweights and brand new players to the game of comedy that makes the film much more entertaining than it probably should be.

“And then of course there’s Eddie Murphy that for the first time in a decade plays a realistic character that cannot speak to animals or is so extremely fat that it’s just sad, not funny.”

The plot is modern, but nothing really groundbreaking. I had a few issues with the pacing, with certain scenes seeming unusually long and others that you wish could have been drawn out a bit more. Furthermore, the movie does take quite a while to get going, with the really funny moments only happening halfway through adventure. But in the greater scheme of things, this is a small blemish on a film that is surprisingly watchable and enjoyable.

An unlikely, but funny pair. Great return to form for Murphy, more of the same from Stiller.

Highlight: Gabourney Sidibe’s role in The Heist is a far cry from what we’re used to, which results in almost every scene with her in being totally ridiculous and hilarious. Singling out one feels like a crime, but there’s one scene involving a cake and a security guard that is sure to result in more than just a giggle or two.