REVIEW: Tower Heist

14 10 2012

I’ll set the scene for you: it was a dark and stormy Saturday night.  OK, I don’t know if it was raining, but it was the Saturday of the last weekend of spring break and no one was on campus.  Thus, it was a perfect night for a movie.  I was tired after a long day of flying on airplanes, and I really just wanted a throwaway, lowest-common-denominator type of film.  Something that was pure entertainment and would just make me smile.  Laughing wasn’t even necessary.

Tower Heist,” surprisingly, filled my need quite nicely.  Perhaps my exceptionally low expectations are making my enthusiasm a great deal larger than it actually is, though.  This isn’t a movie I intend to ever watch again, but for the one time I did watch it, the ride was decently enjoyable.   Which is really all I could have wanted from the movie.

Sure, the humor is sophomoric and stupid, and it’s a far cry from Ben Stiller’s “There’s Something About Mary,” Eddie Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop,” or Matthew Broderick’s “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”  But this Occupy-esque comedy does manage to deliver a few small satisfactions.  It’s a particularly great time watching Murphy, who seems alive for the first time since “Dreamgirls.”

As a con man brought in by the staff of a hotel to execute a “Mission: Impossible” type plan to rob their über-one percenter boss (Alan Alda as a thinly veiled Bernie Madoff caricature), Murphy has the best lines and the best moments.  You might even see a flash of Axel Foley peeking out from behind the levels of Hollywood hardness.  Go back to the classic comedy if you want the real deal, but “Tower Heist” will do for the moment if you’re folding laundry and it happens to be on Cinemax.  B-

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What to Look Forward to In … October 2009

29 08 2009

We give the movie industry late August and all of September to recover from the busy summer season, but in October, it starts to kick it into gear again.  Unfortunately, my most anticipated movie in October, Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” was pushed back to February.  But the month still puts forth several great movies for all tastes.

October 2

This week, I can promise you that I will be throwing my money not at a new release, but at the re-release of two staples of my childhood.  “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” will hit theaters again for a few weeks.  1 ticket.  2 movies. 3-D.  Need I say more?

The week also gives us “The Invention of Lying,” which could be a sleeper comedy hit. The movie stars Ricky Gervais, who was the lead of the British version of “The Office.” Around this time last year, he starred in “Ghost Town,” a comedy with a heart that you need to go rent now, that was dismissed by audiences. I have high hopes for his latest, in which he plays a man who tells the world’s first lie on an alternate Earth. He continues to wield the power to suit his own selfish needs. The movie also features Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and the always funny Tina Fey.

And not to mention, the week delivers Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It.” The movie stars the irresistible Ellen Page (“Juno”) as Bliss, a teenager weary of the beauty pageants that she is forced into by her parents. One day, she discovers the world of roller derby and she finds the happiness that she has been so desperately seeking. The movie boasts a hilarious supporting cast including Kristen Wiig (“SNL”), Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, and Barrymore herself.

And it just keeps getting better.  The Coen Brothers (“No Country for Old Men”) are back with their latest feature, “A Serious Man;” they also wrote the original screenplay.  The movie seems to be a big risk.  It features no marquee names other than the Coens themselves. The trailer is cryptic, giving no indication of what to expect from the movie. I don’t mind an aura of mystique, but this is an aura of confusion. The movie is being marketed as a dark comedy, and I pray that it is the polar opposite of the Coens’ last foray into the genre, “Burn After Reading,” which I didn’t find funny at all. The movie starts in limited release and then will slowly expand from New York and Los Angeles.

The other major release of the week is “Zombieland,” a horror-comedy with Woody Harrelson.

October 9

The only exciting movie hitting theaters across the country this weekend is “Couples Retreat.”  A comedy centered around four couples at a luxurious tropical resort that is revealed to be a marriage therapy clinic, it appears to provide something for everyone.  It has pretty women (Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis) AND funny guys (Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau).  The movie is the directorial debut of Ralph Billingsley, best known for playing Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” and the screenplay is written by Vaughn and Favreau.  Hopefully it can provide some good laughs in a season usually replete of hilarious comedies.

Opening in limited release is “An Education,” a movie that has been garnering massive Oscar buzz for months now.  Most of it has centered on the breakout performance of lead actress Carey Mulligan.  In the movie, she stars as Jenny, a 17-year-old in 1960s England who is set on going to Oxford.  However, an older gentleman (Peter Sarsgaard) comes along and sweeps her off of her feet, introducing her to a lifestyle that she immediately loves.  But reality bites, and Jenny is left at a crucial crossroads.  The movie has also generated buzz around supporting actors Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike (the red-haired villain of “Die Another Day”).  Raves are also flying in for the screenplay, written by author Nick Hornby, writer of “About a Boy” and “Fever Pitch.”  And with the 10 nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, many people say it has a good chance of claiming one of the ten.

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