Movie Review

Tower Heist also known as “Hogyan lopjunk felhőkarcolót”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual content.

Reviewed by: David Criswell
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Action Crime Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
November 4, 2011 (wide—3,200+ theaters)
DVD: February 21, 2012
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

robbery and stealing in the Bible

drunkenness

What’s wrong with the moral of this story? Do two wrongs make a right?

revenge

Wall Street crook

profanity and crude, vulgar language

justice

justice of God

Just One

final judgment

Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer

Featuring: Ben StillerJosh Kovacs
Eddie MurphySlide
Matthew BroderickChase Fitzhugh
Casey AffleckCole Howard
Téa LeoniClaire Denham
Gabourey Sidibe … Odessa Montero
Nina Arianda … Miss Iovenko
Michael PeñaRick Malloy
Alan AldaArthur Shaw
Judd Hirsch … Milo Krayne
more »
Director: Brett Ratner—“Rush Hour” 1-3, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Red Dragon
Producer: Universal Pictures
Imagine Entertainment
Relativity Media
more »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“It’s not just a robbbery. It’s payback.”

Hollywood has great marketers and horrible marketers. One thing they do not have is honest marketers. “Tower Heist” is a prime example of good, but dishonest, marketing. If you have seen the commercials, you were doubtless expecting a rip roaring comedy about a Wall Street crook getting his comeuppance. If you have seen the movie, what you saw was a stale caper film rewritten for the talents of Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. However, Stiller and Murphy, despite their attempt to infuse some humor upon the script, fail to lift the script above its implausible and predictable origins. I got the feeling that the story had been kicked around Hollywood for years, being rejected by producer after producer until Murphy and Stiller saw an opportunity to transform it into a caper comedy. Nevertheless, the humor (most of it poor and crude) is stashed between boring, predictable, and stale heist scenes with a predictable ending.

The plot revolves around a Wall Street guru (Alan Alda), who has been funneling money into his own pockets. When the FBI show up at his ritzy apartment and seize his assets, the apartment manager (Ben Stiller) realizes that he and many of the apartment staff have also been cheated out of their life savings. He, therefore, enlists the help of petty crook Eddie Murphy to steal $20,000,000 which Alan Alda has stashed away in his apartment.

Exactly how Stiller knows where the money is hidden, since the FBI go over everything with a fine tooth comb, is only cursorily addressed, as is the logic of most of the caper. Since the film is transformed in a comedy (of sorts), this is excusable, or would be if it were actually funny. Nevertheless, our band of hapless thieves proceed to pull off the robbery of the century, all while the goods are protected by FBI agents. I shant detail the specifics, but there is between a difference a ludicrous but amusing heist, and a simply unimaginative heist hiding behind the “comedy” label to excuse a lack of imagination and illogic.

The greater problem with “Tower Heist” is that the entire barrage of humor is crude, rude, and unfunny. This is a prime example of a movie which has no excuse for not getting an R-rating. The language alone is excessive, including countless (I mean I literally could not keep count) vulgarities and profanities. Sexual comments and innuendoes also went far beyond the pale with constant jokes about sex, prostitution, lesbians, and Murphy giving detailed discussion and evaluation of women’s “boobies.”

Finally, the morality of making heroes out of criminals is certainly one which parents will want to address. Although we are supposed to sympathize with these crooks for “stealing back what was stolen from them,” this is not really true. The victim is not really the Wall Street guru but the millions of people he ripped off are equally robbed by our “heroes.” They are cheated for $70,000 and steal $20,000,000 which rightly belongs to many other victims.

This sort of justification for sin is too common in our society and the current political climate, particularly given the Wall Street backdrop, paves way for the justification which people use for sin. Yes, it is “just a film” but it is a film which is set against the backdrop of real white collar crime. It promotes relative morality and the same sort of excuses which these same white collar criminals used to embezzle money in the first place! Thus, our “heroes” are in reality the same as the white collar criminals they revile. The $20,000,000 which should have been divided among the victims, is divided among the robbers alone.

Ultimately, “Tower Heist” is a film which should have been left in the discarded script pile. As a heist film, it is illogical (how much weight does an elevator hold?), absurd (apparently the FBI doesn’t even bother to check glove compartments in cars), and cliché. As a comedy, it is crude, rude, and unfunny. My advice is to avoid the film, or at least wait until the DVD. Bear in mind, however, that this is an R-rated film, regardless of what label the MPAA put upon it.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Extreme—G-damn (4), “Oh G_d” (3), “Jesus” (2), OMG, “For Chr_st’s sakes”, “Jesus Christ,” “Oh J_sus,” s-words (36), and many vulgar sexual terms / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I was amazed that most of the people in the audience with me who went to see “Tower Heist” were over 60. No one really young was there. Many seniors way up there in years, older than me, and it had to be because we all wanted to see the funny Eddie Murphy of yesteryear, of the “Beverly Hills Cop” humor. And we were rewarded with his unique comedic style.

“Tower Heist” is a caper film, and I enjoyed it as that. All the acting was good. The story brings to mind Bernie Madoff’s criminal activity, so that part of the plot was unoriginal, albeit very relevant to today’s financial crises.

Do two wrongs make a right? Of course not, but there was a tiny bit of justice and virtue in the Robin Hood style that made the movie palatable to me. Justice was meted out in the end appropriately. A couple of hours of very silly drama with some welcome suspense. I liked it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Halyna, age 65 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I enjoyed this movie for its twists and turns plus moments of humor. The pressure of today’s workplace was realistically portrayed. The cast employs a lot of cursing, coarse talk with many sexual references and cheap talk about men’s sexual organs, women’s breasts and so on. God’s name is dragged through the script like a dirty mop. It does have a self sacrificial ending that is uplifting.

In summary, I don’t recommend this movie, if God is to be glorified then this movie takes you away from that truth. If humor is loved for being funny and capers engage because they are interesting, then this movie throws in way too much unnecessary wickedness with no story purpose. It’s too bad, the acting and script were decent without the things mentioned above—they only detract from the artistry of the cast.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Chris, age 59 (USA)
Neutral—I think if I had seen other viewer comments previous to seeing this movie I may have decided to pass on the movie. None the less, the movie had its funny parts, and was a heist/caper movie, so you couldn’t go in expecting a movie that didn’t have stealing and related story lines.

I partly was hoping to see a funny Eddie Murphy movie (Ben Stiller was good as well) which this was, but unfortunately with too much cursing, taking the Lord’s name in vain, and sexual innuendo. The movie had somewhat of a moral, along the lines of Robin Hood, or an earlier movie starring Téa Leoni—“Fun with Dick and Jane”. Though I though Dick and Jane was more of a good natured movie than this one.

Ultimately the movie had its funny moments, but you have to bear with the profanity and frequent sexual innuendo to get to the funny parts of the movie. I probably wouldn’t recommend Tower Heist, though I like Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller. Ultimately, I leave it to the reader to decide, but hope I have helped the reader to know what can be expected from this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—John, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—At first, I thought this was stupid, but I liked it better, once it got to the heist parts. Has much unnecessary profanity and sexual banter, though.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Bottom line, not worth even a matinee price, unless constant swearing is acceptable to you. From a Christian perspective, way too much unacceptable language of all types, including using the Lord’s name disrespectfully and a weak script. It is what it is, but I still will moan about how much language a film can have and still be PG-13. For example, there are frequent and overdone references to genitals, but I guess people feel that is good, since movies have more of it. There were 2 young teens behind me laughing loudly precisely at those points in the dialogue.

Personally, I regard that as a confession by the screenwriters that their imaginations went blank. The storyline is not moral in that it is about taking revenge oneself and making it look ok. This kind of partial truth and appealing to the unregenerate soul’s desire to get even is anti biblical. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Bob Maclean, age 62 (USA)
—Very disappointed. Eddie murphy was horrible! Very poor script!!! Waste of time and money. One of Stiller’s worst movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality:
—Rob G, age 52 (USA)
Negative—Please don’t waste your money on this flick! What a disappointment. Eddie Murphy was offensive… a TON of cursing… especially the Lord’s name in vain.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Rob G, age 51 (USA)
Negative—This film is not worth the time or the money. It fails at a secular level. It is a film in which you would get a few wry smiles—that is it. We are all familiar with unChristian films that are uproariously funny. I will not list any, because I do not want to encourage the watching of them, but this is just a damp squib.

As for Christian ethics—two wrongs do not make a right, for example, I thought that Ben Stiller’s character’s attack on a Ferrari was, per se, disgraceful, and disgraceful in its own terms, because obviously, the car no longer belonged to the Bernie Madoff character, but to his creditors. There is way too much swearing in this film. There is the same recent Hollywood obeisance to lesbianism as a cool sexual choice for “hotties”. It is a male fantasy of those who attend pole dancing establishments and manifestly has not any tangency with reality, quite apart from being unChristian.

The whole film is a boring mess.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—BP, age 53 (Australia)
Negative—This was another of those many movies that had promise, but was ruined by numerous unnecessary references to genitalia and other obscenities. I cannot recommend this movie, on that basis alone, and I am not a viewer who cannot tolerate movies that don’t maintain my values. But beyond that, it just wasn’t very well done, in spite of it’s many big name actors and storyline potential.

The acting was often flat: Matthew Broderick was pretty bad, and Casey Affleck was awful. The whole movie often felt like a series of preview scenes with abrupt cutoffs, and all of us who were watching it often turning to ask each other, “How did we get here?”

At the end, as we were waiting through the obvious ending, we thought we could piece together the plot in retrospect. The stupidity extended into an anticapitalist subplot that was unfortunately poorly enough executed that it didn’t detract from the rest of this turkey of a movie and it’s obsession with female body parts.

Think, “two hours I can’t get back and garbage I want to forget” and don’t send the makers of this film any more money. I wish we hadn’t.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Ed, age 54 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—…Considering actual people made this movie, it is going to reflect how actual people talk. A downtown thug who’s been to jail isn’t going to have the most morally correct things to say to people just like Eddie Murphy had to do in the movie. You shouldn’t have a problem with it if that’s how actual human beings act. If you have a problem with it, then go take it up the actual people… don’t take it out on the movie, because, yes, it was a good movie.…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—A, age 14 (USA)
Positive—“Tower Heist” was probably one of the funniest movies I have seen this year. It was meant to be a comedy that made people laugh, and it served its purpose. Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy were the perfect people to play the two main characters. “Tower Heist” contained quite a bit of language (including at least 1 f-word) for a PG-13 movie, and it also had several sexual references. It was pushing on the boundaries of an R rating, but I think it still deserved a PG-13 rating. Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—C, age 14 (USA)
Movie Critics

“‘Tower Heist’ feigns being an ‘Ocean’s 11’ for schmucks, but plays like a retread of ‘48 Hours.’… action sequences that could have come from an “80’s cop-buddy comedy, when Eddie Murphy made for a convincing con man.…”
—Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

“…the dialogue isn’t just foul, it’s routinely foul.… Nearly 50 s-words. God’s and Jesus” names are, together, misused a dozen or more times. Five or six times God’s name is combined with “d--n.”…”
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In

“…once again we have a film where our Lord’s name is tossed around blithely. Mostly, it’s the villain who profanes God’s and Christ’s name, but not all of the 10 profanities come from the antagonist. This verbal irreverence marred what otherwise would have been a nice comic fantasy about the good guys eventually besting the bad guys.…”
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review

“…For what it is—recessionary wish-fulfillment escapism, with a lot of highly skilled familiar faces in its amply qualified cast—it’s fun.…”
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“…The movie is broad and clumsy, and the dialogue cannot be described as witty, but a kind of grandeur creeps into the screenplay by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson.…”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“…Fast-talking, flummoxed and full of false bravado, Murphy gives a performance as a low-level thief that recalls his signature work in the movies that made him a superstar in the mid-1980s…”
—Christy Lemire, Associated Press Movie Critic

“…overblinged, eye-catching, and essentially tacky.…”
—Lisa Schwarzbaumm, Entertainment Weekly

“…could and should have been much more.…”
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

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