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“Tower Heist” (Funny, But Not That Funny)

You might think that a movie starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy would be knockdown hilarious.  You would be wrong.

Not that “Tower Heist” isn’t funny.  It is.  It’s just not that funny.

A caper film needs good characters.  “Tower Heist” has them.  Stiller is building manager for a residence in Manhattan, which resembles Trump Tower.  In its penthouse resides the tower owner, a Bernie Madoff sort of guy played by Alan Alda, who gets busted for fraud by the feds.

Stiller had arranged for Alda to invest the pension funds of his fellow employees.  That money has vanished.  Stiller suspects that Alda still has millions stashed in a secret safe in the penthouse.

Stiller recruits a few of those employees and a foreclosed ex-resident to break in to the penthouse and steal the money.  Here’s where the characters come in. Stiller turns to Eddie Murphy, a small time hood in Stiller’s neighborhood, to mentor the robbery team.  That team includes Casey Affleck, Michael Pena and Gabourey “Precious” Sidibe.

The caper transpires on Thanksgiving Day while the Macy’s parade is underway just outside the tower.  The execution of the caper is fun to watch and occasionally funny to watch.  Of course, things do not go exactly as planned, implausible things happen and the havoc that ensues leads to an audience-pleasing resolution.

Another cast member worth a mention is Tea Leoni as a federal agent who busts Alda and flirts shamelessly with Stiller.

Eddie fans may feel that they got shortchanged in the amount of face time Murphy gets in the movie.  Ben fans who laughed hardily at Stiller in “Tropic Thunder” and the Focker films will find “TH” not quite so funny.

“Tower Heist” is an entertaining movie.  Enjoy it for what it is, laugh and have fun. Just don’t expect to be blown away.

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