A comedy about working-class stiffs who stick it to the Wall Street type who stole their savings?
Talk about ripped from today’s headlines. Talk about being in sync with the national mood. Talk about Eddie Murphy, funny again after all these years.
“Tower Heist” is a winning “Robin Hood and his Merry Doormen” comedy about getting even. A cast of comedy specialists deliver their comic specialties to perfection, delivering double-takes and one-liners so well that you don’t notice how clunky the actual caper in this caper comedy is.
Ben Stiller is Josh, the efficient building manager in a swank New York high-rise condo complex, The Tower. It’s where the richest of the rich live. And Josh has drilled and drilled his staff on anticipating their every need.
Guys like fund manager Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) are kept in coddled comfort thanks to the labor of many. Josh is the “fixer” who makes The Tower run like a well-oiled machine, and his employees adore him for it.
But the feds arrest Shaw for financial wrongdoing, and Josh has to admit to his staff that he invested their retirement money with the swindler. As they take stock of working lives that they have nothing to show for, some think of suicide. Josh, feeling guilty, thinks of revenge — stealing that money back.
This Brett Ratner comedy was cast with able role players. Stiller does this good-at-his-job guy well. Casey Affleck is spot-on as Josh’s lazy brother-in-law. Gabourey Sidibe is hilarious as a Jamaican maid who lost her savings and may lose her work visa if she can’t find a husband. Michael Pena is a hoot.
Matthew Broderick is type-cast as a nebbish laid-off Merrill Lynch manager evicted from The Tower. He’s lost his job, his home and his wife. He’ll help with the heist.
But if they’re after Shaw’s hidden millions, they need more than people who know the building and who know Wall Street. They need a thief. They need Murphy, the Murphy of 1983’s “Trading Places” — manic, mouthy and menacing, a guy who can teach them how to pick a lock or lift a wallet.
Alda makes a great patronizing patrician. He plays online chess with Josh, but he never lets him forget his place.
The one-liners pop and the cast delivers. And in “Tower Heist,” the caper itself becomes secondary when the message hits this close to home. In this economy, we’re all “The Help.”
"Tower Heist" is rated PG-13 and is showing at UEC Theater 12, Roxy and College 9.