DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: November 4, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for pervasive language and sexual dialogue)
Genre: Action-Comedy
Run Time: 104 min
Director:  Brett Ratner
Cast: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, Gabourey Sidibe

Previews for movies like Tower Heist often leave audiences with an understandable “hopeful skepticism.” Ads are funny, the movie is loaded with talent and it seems to have all the right pieces . . . or maybe the trailer has the best laughs while the rest of it falls flat. Bottom line, it could go either way.

Thankfully, Tower Heist goes the right way. This movie is a lot of fun and, in the era of Occupy Wall Street, ends up being a perfectly-timed, wish-fulfillment caper for the 99%.

The earliest tip to its potential comes near the end of the opening credits: “Screenplay by Ted Griffin & Jeff Nathanson.” Writers of (respectively) Ocean’s Eleven and Catch Me If You Can, this duo has a proven track record of adding intelligence and wit to what could be routine genre pictures. While this collaboration may not quite match their previous heights, it certainly reflects smart, spirited storytellers who refuse to be lazy (even as they have a blast stretching the bounds of plausibility).

Sure, they often throw logic out with one hand but do so while bringing in humor and invention with the other. It’s consistently clever and occasionally inspired with a script that never wears thin or fades, always coming up with nice little twists, snags, and effectively poignant character moments right when the story needs them. Yes, this never would happen. This never could happen. But it’s fun how it all happens here.

Heist pictures are often by nature complicated. Consequently, the choice by the screenwriters and director Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand, the Rush Hour trilogy) to keep the premise simple and clear was the first of many smart decisions. 

The blue-collar service staff of a New York residential high-rise has fallen prey to a ponzi scheme by their wealthiest tenant, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda, The Aviator).  With retirement plans completely wiped-out, tower manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller, Little Fockers) rounds up a diverse but motley crew of fellow victims—along with a professional thief (Eddie Murphy, the Shrek films)—to steal the millions of dollars Shaw has locked away in his top-floor penthouse. It’s a tale as old as Robin Hood, with Stiller’s Kovacs as the twenty-first century Prince of Thieves and the rest his Merry Men.