December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011

In My Opinion: Tower Heist

Man, everyone really hates the 1%, don’t they? The bad guy du jour is a corrupt financier (is there any other kind?) who takes pleasure in sticking it to the little guy. The little guy who, of course, is blameless. The little guy is in debt because he’s feeding his family on meager wages! Not because he frittered away his money on fancy clothes, electronic gadgets, and a house he knew he couldn’t afford!

Obviously, the struggles of the 99% are Not Their Fault. Obviously.

But let’s not get political. Let’s just accept the trend of framing anyone who does anything in finance as Evil with a capital EVIL.

Like the bad guy in Tower Heist. A thinly-veiled version of Donald Trump played with great relish by Alan Alda. The man lives in a lower-Manhattan penthouse. Swims in a rooftop pool. Has Steve McQueen’s car in his living room. Drinks fancy wine and cheese.

*cue booing from the huddled masses*

Yet the employees of Trump Tower The Tower love him, because you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, especially when you aren’t allowed to take tips.

Until they find out that he swindled their pension money.


So a motley crew, led by former building manager Ben Stiller, decides to break into Alda’s apartment to get $20 million they believe is hidden there. The complications? It’s near impossible to get into the apartment. Nor are they professional thieves. It’s sort of Ocean’s Eleven performed by the staff of a Hilton.

They’re smart, though, these Tower employees. They use the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as cover (Snoopy!). They know how to work an elevator. And the entire building. As one character points out, they’ve been unintentionally casing out the building every day they’ve worked there. They know everything about every apartment and resident.

[Side note: Is the level of service at an exclusive residence/hotel really that face-meltingly awesome? I want to live in a building with an elevator operator and a cheery doorman and staff who get me my favorite treat on my birthday! At my current rate, it will only take me another 80 years to achieve that income level!]

Understand, though, that this movie has a very slow build. The crew must assemble. They must train. They must overcome doubts about each other. By the time they finally make it into the apartment to discover (spoiler alert) that the $20 million is not in the safe as expected, you’re ready to get 4 million of your closest friends to each chip in five bucks to get it over with already.

Does Alan Alda get his comeuppance? Of course he does. Our nation’s Occupying zeitgeist wouldn’t have it otherwise. But at least we get to meet some fun characters (Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni) along the way.

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