** (out of four)
I support liking brie on your burger, but snooty businessman Arthur Shaw’s (Alan Alda) extravagance catches up to him when the FBI snags him for securities fraud. Since the stolen money includes the pensions of all the staff in Arthur’s building, a ragtag crew of the tower’s employees/residents (Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena) recruit an amateur thief (Eddie Murphy) to help swipe $20 million from the crook. If ever there was a victimless crime, this is it.
The buzz: Not only does the plot and rhythm of the occasionally funny, mostly lazy “Tower Heist” largely resemble a lobotomized version of 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Heist” is co-written by “Ocean’s” scribe Ted Griffin. But wait, Arthur recalls Bernie Madoff—anyone else surprised director/master of subtlety Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") didn’t want to name the character Ernie Sadoff?—so the movie’s, like, totally topical and fresh.
The verdict: There’s suspension of disbelief, and there’s pureeing your brain “Top Chef”-style. Josh’s (Stiller) transition from friendly building manager to fearless, strategic leader makes as much sense as what has to be one of the all-time most conspicuous on-screen thefts—which, by the way, happens during a jam-packed parade. Never mind the absurd romantic connection between Josh and an FBI agent (Tea Leoni), who I’m sure always takes a personal interest in the minor players in her cases. Axel Foley, Ferris Bueller and Derek Zoolander orchestrating a heist would be awesome; casting the actors as Mr. Loudmouth, Mr. Neurotic and Mr. Bland with the inept Ratner behind the wheel? Not the same.
Did you know? Sports Illustrated/Victoria’s Secret/everything else model Kate Upton appears in one scene but does not speak. Hopefully she didn’t spend too much time preparing for her big debut movie role as “Hot blonde girl who walks in a line.”
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firstname.lastname@example.org. @mattpaisCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times