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When a group of hard working guys find out they've fallen victim to a wealthy business man's Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence.
For more about Tower Heist and the Tower Heist Blu-ray release, see Tower Heist Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 6, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Judd Hirsch
Director: Brett Ratner
» See full cast & crew
Tower Heist Blu-ray Review
"We're not criminals. We don't know how to steal!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 6, 2012
Recorded in the offices of Brian Grazer in early 2010. Source unknown: "Get me George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, pronto. What? Not available? [Expletive deleted.] Well then get me Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and... and... Matthew Broderick. Love me some Broderick. That'll work. Need a few more, though... see if David Duchovny's ex is free. Is Precious still in town? She was up for an Oscar. Maybe one of the Affleck boys, preferably the one from that Soderbergh heist flick. Tack on the weepy dad from Crash. Alex from Taxi. [Hums first seven bars of Taxi theme.] Mmm! And Hawkeye from M*A*S*H. Cant' get enough of that guy. Now we need a visionary. A real artist. Someone you can count on when everything goes to hell. Ratner. [Expletive deleted.] Brett Ratner! Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?! [Laughs for an uncomfortably long time.] Somebody get me Ratner on the line. Tell him it's Graze!" End of recording.
Alright, alright. Settle down. Producer Brian Grazer didn't slap together Tower Heist over lunch. (It was actually director Brett Ratner who brought the project to him.) But you might think he did if you don't make it past the first thirty minutes of Ratner's Stiller-v-Murphy heist caper. Unlike Ocean's Eleven, Tower's cast feels pieced together at random, Ratner feels tacked on, and Murphy seems to have walked off the set of a late '80s Eddie Murphy vehicle. The film's script doesn't really gel at first either, no doubt the result of having six script doctors (among them Noah Baumbach, Jeff Nathanson and Ocean's own Ted Griffin) tinker with Adam Cooper and Bill Collage's original 2006 screenplay. For the better part of a half an hour, it's a bit of a meandering mess, and a fairly forgettable one at that. But once Tower Heist hits its stride -- 45-minutes in, admittedly -- it turns into something else entirely: a decent comedy and a fun little genre pic.
The biggest problem? Tower Heist should be in the early stages of its penthouse robbery at the 30-minute mark. Instead, genre junkies are subjected to one of the more bloated heist setups in recent memory. All well and good if the characters planning said heist require some time to marinate, or if there are enough side-splitting gags to sustain a high-concept buildup. It's a tiresome chore, though, when dealing in limited laughs and delivering such a simple story: a group of middle-class workers at a New York City luxury apartment complex try their hands at grand larceny to exact revenge on a Bernie Madoff-esque Wall Street swindler. (A timely slice of cash-strapped wish fulfillment, if there ever was one.) The amateur-hour Robin Hoods in question? Devoted apartment complex manager Josh Kovacs (Stiller), his brother-in-law Charlie (Casey Affleck, asleep at the wheel), former Wall Street investor and recently evicted family man Mr. Fitzhugh (Broderick, also snoozing), dim-witted ex-bellhop Enrique Dev'reaux (Michael Peña), Jamaican maid Odessa Montero (Gabourey Sidibe) and career hustler Slide (Eddie Murphy), the only semi-pro thief in Kovacs' crew. And the man who stole the staff's hard-earned pension funds? The man with untold millions stashed somewhere in his apartment? Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), an arrogant billionaire with a knack for phoning in favors, exploiting loop holes in the law, and thwarting FBI special agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) at every turn.
Ratner isn't what any self-respecting cinephile would call one the great American directors but, time and time again, he manages to tap into exactly what the American masses want. Cheap jokes, topical thrills, and mindless entertainment. Tower Heist is one of Ratner's best, unwieldy and unsure of itself as it tends to be. There's a healthy dose of escapism in his highrise caper, made all the more effective by Stiller and Alda's self-righteous fisticuffs, and it's easy to choose sides, root for the little guys, and scowl whenever Alda slithers on screen. Stiller's "you didn't ask if Lester was alive or dead" quip kicks off the movie proper and brings a much-needed energy to the proceedings. (Vandalizing Shaw's Ferrari 250 with a golf club doesn't hurt either.) Come to think of it, for an $85 million ensemble comedy, Stiller, Alda and Leoni are the only actors you'll remember when the crime-of-the-century dust settles. Murphy pushes way too hard, Affleck slacks off, Broderick doesn't come alive until the third act, and Peña needs to stick to dramatic roles. Luckily, Ratner confines everyone but Stiller, Alda and Leoni to the back seat; even Murphy, who spends far more time off camera than on. Stephen Henderson, Judd Hirsch and Zeljko Ivanek warrant more screentime, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers. Unless they're the film's editor, in which case they should have begged and chosen a bit more wisely.
Ratner's flashy heist is satisfying, though. Surprisingly satisfying, considering viewers will spot the the true goods long before Stiller and his bumbling thieves realize a hidden safe full of cash would be much too easy. With the movie cruising along, Ratner jams his foot on the gas, side-swiping Ocean's Eleven in attempt to send it careening off the road. He barely makes a dent -- Soderbergh's Eleven is just that much better -- but he tries, and you almost have to give him credit for going so big without going home. You might even find yourself grinning shamelessly when Shaw begins to suspect he's about to come home to an empty apartment. I know I did. The only lingering disappointment is that Tower Heist doesn't quite seal the deal. (Warning: mild spoilers ahead.) Stiller and Leoni circle each other for the better part of two hours, but nothing comes of it... unless you watch the film's alternate ending, which features the last-minute denouement Heist deserves. Ratner, having turned Collage and Cooper's lead into Griffin and Nathanson's gold, makes the rookie mistake of neglecting to attach a romantic payoff to Kovacs' payday. No harm, no foul... if their budding relationship wasn't such an important part of the story. Ah well. Tower Heist pulled off one of the sharpest 180s I've seen and turned out to be a lot of fun. I know I keep coming back to that word, "fun," but if you don't over-think it -- if you don't mind some mindless fun once in a while (fun with some heart, no less) -- Tower Heist has Friday Night Red Box Rental written all over it.
Tower Heist Blu-ray, Video Quality
Say what you will about Ratner's latest; Tower Heist's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer looks good. Really good. In fact, aside from the slightest hint of ringing, I didn't notice anything worth griping about. Colors are beautifully saturated, skintones are warm and natural, primaries pack heat, and black levels walk the straight and narrow. Moreover, the presentation delivers fine detail after fine detail. Stubble, freckles, pin stripes, pores, cake crumbs, flecks of paint... you name it, you can bet it gets the high-class high definition treatment. Fine textures are exceedingly well-resolved, edge definition is oh-so-exacting, and delineation is dead on. Not every closeup is created equal, of course, but every scene boasts a refined filmic appearance that doesn't slip or stumble. Better still, the encode doesn't commit any serious crimes, and all of the usual suspects -- artifacting, banding, aliasing, smearing, crush and other unsavory characters -- are nowhere to be seen. Make no mistake, Tower Heist looks fantastic. Even if you hate the film, you have to admit its transfer is easy on the eyes.
Tower Heist Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's pulpy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is pulsing with punchy upbeats and beatdowns, so much so that it leaves a lively, lasting impression. Dialogue is ever at the ready; clear, intelligible and perfectly prioritized. LFE output lays down the law; hefty, weighty and bound to every thick-as-thieves bass line Christophe Beck's jazzy score has on tap. And rear speaker activity doesn't let up; assertive, enveloping and brimming with all-too-convincing directional effects. Yes, when hushed conversations dominate the proceedings, the soundscape drifts into front-heavy territory. But it's never long before the mix reasserts its power, demanding every listener's full attention. The third act alone is as immersive as breezy heist flicks come, and the gang's nail-biting penthouse robbery is all the more intense and involving for it. Creaking cables, groaning metal, strong winds, shouts of frustration, gunfire and Beck's funky beats combine forces to give Ocean's Eleven a run for its sonic money. I don't know about you, but if it weren't for the film's toe-tapping sound design, Tower Heist's best scenes wouldn't be nearly as much fun as they are.
Tower Heist Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tower Heist Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tower Heist may be a poor man's Ocean's Eleven (sprinkled with just enough pointed economic angst to make it timely), but it can also be a lot of fun... if taken on its own terms. Murphy tries too hard and Broderick doesn't try hard enough, but the rest of the cast stands firm, making the film's low-rent heist a high-roller blast best served with a bucket of popcorn and low expectations. Universal's Blu-ray release is even better, with an excellent video transfer, a terrific DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a healthy selection of special features. Renting before buying is probably the wisest course of action, but those who rally behind Ratner's Tower Heist won't be disappointed.
Tower Heist: Other Editions
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Tower Heist Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: February 21-28 - February 20, 2012
Last year, Brett Ratner's heist comedy Tower Heist had the misfortune of garnering notoriety for seemingly everything but the finished film. Star Eddie Murphy wanted to create an all-African-American riff on the Ocean's Eleven franchise. When Murphy (initially) ...
• Tower Heist Blu-ray - January 3, 2012
Next month, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring Tower Heist to Blu-ray. This action-comedy stars Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum) as an apartment building manager who enlists the services of his staff to rob the Wall Street investment advisor (Alan ...
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