Tower Heist
The Tower is one of those places in New York City where the residents pay a lot of money in order to be around….other people with a lot of money. “The Help” is suitably obsequious, of course, but the good ones have a little something extra: they know the dogs’ names, too, and when Mr. Miller in 406 needs a little warning that his wife is returning, or the Chinese lady who enjoys a bouquet of roses at the Chinese New Year. This is first-class, quality, personal service, all presided over by an efficient, competent manager (Ben Stiller) who gets to suck up directly to the Big Boss, played with great smug self-satisfaction by Alan Alda, who is constantly reminding the “little people” of his humble origins, thinking that he is being charming, believing his thinly-disguised condescension to be cleverly hidden from the unperceptive masses.
He’s also a swindler. Well, actually, he’s more like one of those aggressive investors who ooze prosperity but are actually teetering on a financial house of cards that any ill wind of adversity could easily blow down. And when the inevitable happens, he continues to confidently insist on his innocence, while hard-working folk realize with growing dread that their pensions have been obliterated by the careless stroke of a smooth operator. Any of this sounding vaguely familiar?
Now it’s time for the peasants to storm the castle. Stiller gets summarily fired for mouthing off when he realized that everyone had been pilfered, and now, along with a few disgruntled associates, is ready to get even. His henchmen, though, are only desperate concierges like himself, along with one disgraced stockbroker, a sad-sack consortium of societal impotents which no reasonable person would mistake for a self-respecting den of thieves. But Stiller has a neighbor, a street-wise larcenist played with menacing artistry by Eddie Murphy. His idea of robbery training is to instruct them to disperse around a neighborhood mall and shoplift, just to prove they’re not the law-abiding pansies they appear to be. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Meanwhile, the FBI agent on Alda’s case, played by Tea Leoni, is also frustrated with slimeballs who get away with fraud because they can, and not-so-secretly applauds the Robin Hood gang for their audacity and careful planning. Let’s see, throw in a few red herrings like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Steve McQueen’s personal Ferrari, a stolen truck decoy, an empty safe, and a false text message from a purloined cell phone, and you have the ingredients for a slick, engaging tale of hijinks and hijacks.
Sure, there are plot holes, if you want to look for them. But this is one of those popcorn movies where you sit back and enjoy the ride and don’t think too much. Even about versatile Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) as a Jamaican safecracker.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas