Tower Heist – Review by Susan Granger

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As comedy capers go, this battle-of-wits satisfies, primarily because it’s more caper than comedy.

Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) manages one of New York’s most luxurious residences, The Tower (think Trump Tower). Dutifully determined to please its owner, Wall Street tycoon Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), he is meticulous about every detail – until selfish, arrogant Shaw is arrested for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that swindled $2 billion from his shareholders (think Bernie Madoff). Since Kovacs asked Shaw to invest the Employees’ Pension Fund, he feels personally responsible for the financial losses of everyone on his staff.

That’s why he’s determined to steal back greedy Shaw’s $20 million stash. Problem is: Shaw has been placed under house arrest and his penthouse apartment is guarded by an FBI squad, headed by tough Special Agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni). So Kovacs assembles an amiable, if eclectic team that includes expectant father Charlie (Casey Affleck), the concierge; Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), a bankrupt, recently evicted banker; cheerful elevator operator Enrique Dev’Reaux (Michael Pena); about-to-retire doorman Lester (Stephen McKinley Henderson); and Odessa (Gbourney Sidibe), a feisty, flirtatious Jamaican maid. With their varied skill-sets, they’re familiar with all the intricacies of The Tower. But since no one knows exactly how to execute a heist, Shaw recruits rude, confrontational Slide (Eddie Murphy), an experienced thief who, coincidentally, grew up in the same Queens neighborhood that he did.

Predictably, as the loopholes in their plan become larger, the tension mounts and there are some unexpected twists that don’t unravel until close to the conclusion.

Written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson, based on a far-fetched story by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Ted Griffin, it’s directed by Bret Ratner and superbly lensed by cinematographer Dante Spinote, who lenses a prized, 1963 Ferrari dangling from dizzying heights and dazzling glimpses of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. While Stiller’s straight man propels the plot, each cast member has memorable moments, particularly Alda and Murphy.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Tower Heist” is a slick 7, a smart, timely, topical revenge riff.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.