Did Hollywood have anything to do with the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement? The whole thing seems a little bit convenient. Last month saw the behind-the-meltdown docudrama Margin Call and the sci-fi metaphor In Time. Now we have Tower Heist a comedy that pits the blue collar staff of the Trump Tower against a thieving Bernie Madoff-esque tenant. The movie's an Ocean's 11 for the 99% with a sense of timeliness that makes the simple plotting and wisecracking that much more effective.
Ben Stiller stars as Josh Kovacs overseer of all the goings-on at the Tower. He wakes up before dawn and heads home after sunset spending his day catering to the occupants of the ritzy apartment complex and managing his eclectic crew—including former Burger King cook Enrique (Michael Peña) Jamaican maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) and his slacker brother-in-law Charlie (Casey Affleck). The crew's greatest concern is multi-billionaire Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) the penthouse resident Tower board member and thanks to attention paid trusted friend of Josh.
Trusted...until the FBI busts Shaw for stealing millions including the Tower employees' pensions.
Like all good tower heists Josh's titular harebrained scheme is prompted by a drunken night out with lead investigator Claire (Téa Leoni) who tips the irked manager off to Shaw's hidden stash: a possible eight-figure sum hidden somewhere in his apartment. In pursuing the American dream of revenge Josh recruits his slighted co-workers along with distraught former-millionaire Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) and Josh's childhood friend-turned-thief Slide (Eddie Murphy). Together the motley crew concocts a plan to retrieve what's rightfully theirs—all while sinking Shaw in the process.
Tower Heist isn't as slick or intricate as the Ocean movies but its straightforward take on the crime genre is strengthened by Stiller Murphy and the rest of the cast's ability to inject ridiculous humor into sympathetic characters. When Josh realizes his decade spent commanding the operations of the Tower were for naught he wigs out marching up to the top floor to beat the crap out of Shaw's priceless convertible (it was owned by Steve McQueen in case you were wondering why anyone would keep an antique car on the top floor of a building). Not entirely realistic but relatable which sums up every over-the-top satisfying scenario these characters find themselves throughout the film.
Most importantly Tower Heist delivers on the funny. Playing the straight man is an art and Stiller's one of the masters (although you'd never know it from his Night at the Museum shtick or wackier roles like Zoolander) riffing off his co-stars while giving them ample time to be complete weirdos. The movie is being touted as a comeback for Murphy but he wisely steps into a supporting role delivering on his character's manic charm while never trying to steal the spotlight. The one who really steals the show is Broderick whose clueless neurotic Fitzhugh can't help relapsing mid-heist into memories of luxurious trips to Greece.
Credit goes to director Brett Ratner who cranked out three Rush Hour movies and an X-Men threequel while never really nailing down what it takes to make a group dynamic work. Here he pulls it off finding the right beats to make Tower Heist funny and thrilling. There are moments during the actual heist scene set during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade that cause quite a stir—a rarity in today's run-of-the-mill thrill rides.
Tower Heist is the definition of a cinematic softball avoiding risky choices and utilizing each actor to their previously known (and successful) traits without feeling lazy. As the holidays roll in and families look for something they all can enjoy Tower Heist delivers a little something for everyone. Except maybe Bernie Madoff.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Born with an immunity disorder Jimmy leads a sheltered life in his parents' big suburban house which they built to cater to their little bubble boy's every need. His mother a devoutly religious housewife spends her days doting on raising and home schooling Jimmy. He's a sheltered little boy but he does befriend Chloe the blonde girl next door. . . Years pass. When Chloe tells Jimmy she is marrying her sleazy boyfriend in Niagara Falls a heartbroken Jimmy builds a hermetically sealed bubble suit and sets out to stop the wedding. See he's angry that he never told Chloe how he really felt about her. The rest of the film follows Jimmy on his trek across several states where he runs into the Bright 'n' Shiny cult (led by self-promoter Fabio) a motorcycle gang and a group of circus sideshow attractions all while being chased by his frantic mother. Jimmy provides the audience with a running commentary throughout the film just in case the plot's not obvious enough.
Jake Gyllenhall (Donnie Darko) is curiously well suited for the role of the bubble boy Jimmy. The actor has that wide-eyed goofy gaze required for any naïve sheltered character. Whether he is acting or just looks like that is another question. Swoosie Kurtz is convincing and corny enough as the oddly demonic Tammy Faye-looking mother complete with stiff hair and blue eye shadow. John Carroll Lynch (The Drew Carey Show) as Jimmy's father probably has the best part--it has the fewest lines which is a huge asset considering the horror that passes for a script. Marley Shelton (Valentine Sugar & Spice) who plays Chloe the "whore next door " does the vacant teenage blonde thing well though she appears at times to be playing Heather Graham. Appearances by Verne J Troyer (Mini-Me in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) as the circus-sideshow ringleader Dr. Phreak; Patrick Cranshaw (Best in Show) as twin brothers Pippy and Pappy; Beetlejuice of Howard Stern fame; Kid Rock and Ozzy Osbourne might have added a ray of light had the entire film not been bathed in such bad taste.
Director Blair Hayes had the unfortunate task of helming this miserable project which might not have been such a bad comedy had it explored the relationship between Jimmy and his wacked-out controlling mother. Instead it relies on every single stereotype imaginable for laughs including shots at Jews Asians Hispanics and even a curry-flavored-ice-cream -selling cow -worshipping East Indian. The much-criticized movie does end up being offensive but not because it is insensitive to immune disorders as many critics anticipated. In fact the film barely touches on the issue except for the few times when Jimmy exclaims "One germ could kill me!" It makes you wonder why Carol Ann Demaret was so adamant about stopping the film's release going so far as to call for a boycott. Apart from an early scene where a couple of neighbor kids hop around Jimmy's front lawn wrapped in plastic bags and yelling "Bubble Boy Bubble Boy " the jokes are never really aimed at the disease.