2011_tower_heist_web.jpgIn Tower Heist, Alan Alda, as investment tycoon Arthur Shaw, looks down on the people who work to keep him happy, while smiling sweetly in their faces.


Living in the penthouse suite of the Tower — a Manhattan apartment building that caters to its wealthy owners — Arthur has been entrusted by building manager Josh (Ben Stiller) to invest the savings of its employees.

So perverse is Arthur’s love of money that he squanders the funds. Worse, when confronted about his shady dealings, he brushes off the staff’s accusations, continuing to see them as just “the help.”

To steal their money back from Arthur is the most efficient way the Tower staff see to address the situation. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But with that premise, screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson (with story by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, and Griffin) have tapped into the current economic climate, using real situations and creating absurd solutions for the pure enjoyment of the audience.

There have been countless heist films written and made, so there’s not a lot of room to produce one from scratch. Crafting one that doesn’t go anywhere near a bank is a nice touch.

Another good thing about Tower Heist is Miami Beach native Brett Ratner, a director who is not afraid to place African Americans in prominent roles. Not surprisingly, Ratner also is no stranger to good filmmaking: He directed the Rush Hour franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Money Talks.

It’s nice that Tower Heist has brought Eddie Murphy — who hasn’t been funny since 2003’s Daddy Day Care — back to his comedic roots. Unfortunately, it seemed Murphy had to be the sole criminal in the group in order to land a prominent comedy role. Let’s hope we see more respectable comedy from him, including no more fat suits.

Stiller’s performances have tended to be completely rigid. This time he loosens up and allows Josh to be the badass he needs to be. It’s a beautiful thing.

Gabourey Sidibe makes an appearance as the “rogue” maid. Stereotypically, her Odessa is of Jamaican ethnicity, is good at picking locks and hasn’t met a man with whom she didn’t want to have her way. Unstereotypically, Tower Heist casts a woman of dark hue and unthin body as the woman who gets to come on to one of the stars of the film, Murphy. One small step for Sidibe, one giant step for Hollywood.

Tower Heist lets its audience enjoy revenge on those who have aided in today’s financial demise. A little fantasy never hurts, even if it’s just another heist film.

Photo: Eddie Murphy