DIR: Brett Ratner • WRI: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson • PRO: Brian Grazer, Eddie Murphy • DOP: Dante Spinotti • ED: Mark Helfrich • DES: Kristi Zea • CAST: Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick
Eddie Murphy hasn’t really done a ‘grown-up’ comedy since 2002’s flop I Spy, so in the almost-decade of dregs such as Norbit, Daddy Day Care and Meet Dave, Tower Heist is being touted as something of a comeback for the once King Of Comedy. The good news is Murphy is by far the best thing in the movie. The bad news is considering his company, that’s not necessarily good news.
Murphy is the career criminal who is enlisted by Ben Stiller to help him rob an embezzler (an impeccably evil Alan Alda) who owns the penthouse of a Central Park apartment tower. Stiller used to the manager of said tower, but after losing all his employee’s pension money to the embezzler, he and some fellow employees (Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Matthew Broderick) join forces to get the money they believe he’s hiding in his penthouse and take down the bad guy.
There are some great one-liners, and one or two random scenes of out-right comedy, but all in all there are very few laugh-out-loud moments. Also, considering the script is from the writer of Oceans Eleven and Matchstick Men, the actual heist itself is entirely lacking in any kind of real surprises. There’s no doubt this movie will make a lot of money, primarily due to its inoffensive nature, but for Murphy’s big comeback, you’d kind of wish they’d pushed their boundaries even a little bit.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details) Tower Heist is released on 4th November 2011
DIR: Brian Robbins • WRI: Rob Greenberg, Bill Corbett • PROD: Jon Berg, David T. Friendly, Todd Komarnicki • DOP: J. Clark Mathis • ED: Ned Bastille • DES: Clay A. Griffith • CAST: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Austyn Myers, Ed Helms, Scott Caan
The trailers for the latest family film starring Eddie Murphy seemed to indicate a review would be a no-brainer. Of course the film would be predictable in its plot advancement and conventional in its conclusion. So why would I recommend that you take your family to see Meet Dave? What can I say, Meet Dave passes the great genre acid test – I laughed out loud and, for a moment, forgot I was inside a theatre packed with happily entertained children. And that is really the goal of the family comedy: keeping the kids blissfully distracted while giving the parents a chance to laugh as well.
Implausible and ridiculous as the plot may be, what works about the film is the myriad of well-timed jokes ranging from toilet humour to more sophisticated cultural witticism. From the beginning, what aides the viewer in forgiving the silliness of an Eddie Murphy-shaped spacecraft manned by a crew of tiny alien beings, crash landing face first on Liberty Island in New York City, is the humorous drama which then unfolds as the alien crew adapts to manipulating the craft amongst actual humans. Eddie Murphy, who is famous for many reasons, one of which is playing more than one character in a movie, attempts a simplified version of this talent by playing both the spacecraft and the tiny alien captain inside the comparatively massive ship. While at times Murphy’s performances seem to depend too heavily upon his trademark mischievous smile, using this method in Meet Dave, he effectively elicited laughter from the audience, proving the smile technique an oldie but goodie. Right away it is made clear that the ultimate mission of these aliens is to capture a source of energy on Earth in order to save their own depleted and dying planet, a plot which seems all too pertinent to current human environmental fears. The gloom and doom of such a prospect is not overly dwelled upon. The problematic consequence of Earth-raiding aliens fades neatly into the background of a classic tale of aliens becoming smitten with humanity. This does not mean, however, that the film is devoid of dark sentiment, but rather smartly remembers its purpose is to entertain, not preach.
Overall, the quick-paced sequences and abundant action scenes, combined with the continuous flow of non-offensive comedic narrative and well-timed performances by the film’s diverse cast, make Meet Dave a safe choice for feel-good family entertainment.