THANK GOD FOR BRETT RATNER.
Now, I know most reviews for this film are going to proclaim how they were amazed how much they liked it after thinking THEY’D FUCKING HATE IT. I got no qualms with The Rat, he was fucked with X-MEN 3 from the get-go mainly because the whole X-Men franchise was fucked from the get-go. He made a good looking movie and had the balls to just kill it…even though they won’t let the fucker STAY DEAD. Outside of X3 he’s made fairly innocuous buddy comedies/heist films….so he’s right back in his element here with TOWER HEIST, and the results are as solid as Rat is Jew.
I know most of us would agree that comedy is dead, thanks to Apatow’s hammer-over-the-head approach (if at first the gag doesn’t work, let it play out for another 5 minutes before moving the fuck on), and his remarkable ability to force an actor down the audience’s throat until we are so desensitized and delusional we actually start to believe they’re funny (e.g. Bridesmaids, with that SNL thing).
On the flip-side, you’ve got Todd Phillips’ bro-ness, which is not for everyone. But at least he knows how to shoot a decent looking comedy….unlike Apatow. But enough of all that, we’re here to speak about Ben Stiller’s second attempt at a heist film in the year 2011…the ONE THAT ACTUALLY FUCKING WORKS.
Where to begin? This movie put a giant smile on my face from start to finish. You’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen Eddie Murphy’s career turn to kiddie fare no one cares about, you’ve pondered this in solitude and asked….WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? Now you know Charlie Murphy has been a mild placeholder for Eddie (well, at least for two Chappelle episodes) and when Eddie first appears in this film, Charlie Murphy fans (all 12 of you) will be pleased, (you must understand my darling, THERE IS NO CHARLIE MURPHY WITHOUT EDDIE MURPHY) but after his first two scenes, Eddie comes into his own and the comedic titan we all know and love is off and running. But don’t misunderstand me, Eddie is not the star of this piece. Though it is an effective ensemble at its core, it’s really Stiller’s film. We aren’t even introduced to Eddie until 15-20 minutes in….which believe you me, is a good thing. The first time you hear him speak, you don’t even really see him. You only hear him. That signature Eddie street-voice, it resonates from balls to cranium and brings back a surge of 80s emotion; Eddie Murphy (arguably the funniest comedian of all time) is back. You feel it. HE’S BACK. In the screening I attended, the entire audience went ape-shit at just the utterance of his first line, and the energy and adoration was pretty much non-stop from then on.
I’m not going to really get into the plot, because while people smarter than me may guess ahead and figure out the twists and turns, I enjoyed not knowing. The silly heist plot works just fine, and the trailer does a great job at NOT giving away all the jokes nor any of the big plot-points (now the same may not be true of the TV spots once this drops, but for now they are golden). If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say the plot/interaction is reminiscent of a good John Hughes comedy, which brings us to our next point….MATTHEW BRODERICK, who’s been too busy tickling the dick of Broadway with a feather to give much of a shit about his film career (he hasn’t made anything noteworthy since 99’s ELECTION). They’re not really marketing TOWER HEIST as Broderick’s return, but it sure does feel like it. Whether intentional or not, there are a few plot-points here that feel like direct nods (or winks if you prefer) to FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF.
I see FERRIS/ELECTION/TOWER HEIST as the ‘BUELLER TRILOGY’; they’re glimpses into the Ferris character at different points of his life. In ‘Day Off’ you have this slacker teenager, unsure of where he fits into the world, more concerned with the conquest of getting out of things than actually doing them. He focuses on the short-term pleasures; living in the moment. With Election, you’ve got the same guy 20 years later, stuck in a rut, coming to the realization that he doesn’t like the person he has become. He has grown into the very thing he swore he wouldn’t. Finally, in Tower Heist, he’s now at the end of the road. He’s gone on too long like this, and he’s finally ready to do something about it, take charge and get his life back.
- Eddie says NO to family features.
Don’t get me wrong, Broderick doesn’t steal any scenes here. He merely works well within the brilliant ensemble, he keeps things fun, and like Murphy, it’s just great to see he’s still fucking alive.
In some manner I guess you could say TOWER HEIST is the product of the current King and Prince (Ben/The Rat) leading the King and Prince of the 80s (Eddie/Matthew) into the new millennium for the current generation to enjoy. It’s a hodge-podge of talent, a perfect storm if you will. All of them came to play and remember what making a fun movie is all about, and we the audience are lucky enough to bask in the result. In addition to the four major players, you got Alan Alda (also surprised to see he’s still alive) as the dick-head billionaire, Michael Pena, (who is underused, as per usual…but it’s still a much better role than Stiller’s last heist attempt), Gabourey Sidibe (proving pound for pound she can hold her own alongside comedy juggernauts), Judd Hirsh, Tea Leoni, and Casey Affleck (who surprisingly rapes no one, though sexual tension with Stiller seemed to indicate that’s where things were headed; alas, they never came to fruition). It’s a good bunch. The chemistry is good, they’re all used effectively. IT JUST FUCKING WORKS.
In the end, you can’t help but let this film win you over. Even the pathetic human trash that pollutes free screenings couldn’t ruin this one for me. I enjoyed it so much in fact, I’m gonna pay to see it again this weekend. I mean…it’s EDDIE MURPHY, doing what he does best. He’s always been one of my favorites, and even here where he isn’t the lead and his part just sort of trails off into nothing toward the end, it’s still a nice return to form and I hope we see more from him like this in the near future. And what more can be said of Brett Ratner? The guy is a multi-genre powerhouse. And he thinks he’s black! Check out the SPECIAL THANKS at the end, and you’ll come to understand why The Rat knows what’s up. He gives a shout to THE GREAT Roman Polanski, THE GREATER Bob Evans, and THE GREATEST James Toback.
- Professional HAWAIIAN ORGAN DONOR meeting his idol Ben Stiller at the Mexico City Premiere of Madagascar 2.