When “Tower Heist” was in theaters last year, I baffled the beau by desperately wanting to see it. Hell, I baffled myself by wanting to see it. I generally can’t stand Ben Stiller, and the movie looked like a goofy, screwball comedy — more “Dumb and Dumber” (gag) than “Oceans 11.”
It turns out? The marketing did that poor movie zero justice. It was actually shockingly similar to “Oceans 11.” “Tower Heist” is a crime caper. It’s a movie about stealing things. And I LOVE movies about stealing things. I revel in the big reveal (“How are they gonna do that?”) and dig the idea of turning morality on its head and rooting for the guys committing the felony.
Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, a manager at a fancy-pants hotel who is good at his job. He knows all the rich people’s schedules and secrets, he’s firm with employees but turns a blind eye when one neglects her job a bit as she studies for the bar. He does not play the doofus we know and loath from those stupid “Meet the Parents” nightmares. He’s likable.
When Tower power player Arthur Shaw, played by Alan Alda, is accused of some big time Wall-Street-style financial scheming , all the employees who invested their retirement funds with Shaw end up loosing all their money. So Kovacs gets a few of his Tower buddies together — along with known thief and childhood bully Slide (Eddie Murphy) — to get their money back.
Now, I rented this on a whim. I knew the beau had zero interest in it, so when I offered to pick up a movie when I ran to the grocery store last night, he wasn’t with me, so I got it on the sly. (Actually, he didn’t find out what we were watching until the menu screen came up. All I gave him was, “Don’t worry. It’s not a romantic comedy.”)
By the end of the movie? “That was great,” he said. That’s high praise from the pickiest movie goer of all time.
Because in addition to the characters playing it straight, the writing was sharp. There are a lot of characters, and we know just enough about them to care about them. When one character tries to step in front of a subway train after learning all his money was lost at the hands of Shaw, there is no overwrought soundtrack. We feel badly for the character, but we are not rolling our eyes because the screenwriter beats us over the head with “THIS POOR MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!”
Despite being interested in the movie, I still expected it to suck. And there is no movie going experience better than being surprised at how much you enjoy something.
What’s the last movie that surprised you with how much you liked it? Did you ever give “Tower Heist” a chance?