Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page

TOWER HEIST

Blue Collars and Blue Bloods
At the heart of Tower Heist is a ragtag group—a building manager with a score to settle, a desperate Wall Streeter on the verge of bankruptcy, a cash-strapped concierge whose wife is expecting their first child, a bellhop up for any adventure and a feisty maid hoping to stay in the country—looking to recoup their looted pensions. Alongside a petty criminal looking for quick cash, they are ready to do what needs to be done to get the cash. The talented ensemble elevated the material with occasional improvisation, and their easy off-screen rapport translated to the front of the camera.

With a standout comic cast led by Stiller and Murphy, humor would naturally punctuate a storyline complemented by action. For many of the actors, the film gave longtime friends an opportunity to work together once again. Ben Stiller, Alan Alda and Téa Leoni reunited for the first time since co-starring in David O'Russell's critically acclaimed 1996 indie Flirting With Disaster. Leoni had previously collaborated with Ratner on The Family Man, and Stiller directed Matthew Broderick in 1996's dark comedy The Cable Guy. As well, a number of day players had worked on many a Ratner film over the years.

International financier Arthur Shaw is the quintessential champagne villain whose polished veneer belies a shrewd con man. For many years Shaw demanded a quiet respect from Josh, who feels a kinship with one of The Tower's most beloved residents. Josh aspires to live in this world and has been hopeful that his fellow chess player would shepherd him there. When faced with an unimaginable betrayal, however, Josh makes it his personal mission to reclaim his crew's money from Shaw. Stiller explains: "Josh and Shaw have a good rapport. Josh is very good at understanding what Shaw needs, but he misinterprets the relationship early on by thinking that Shaw would never do anything to intentionally hurt the people who work in the building.”

In Alan Alda, Ratner and the producers found an actor who could sell a likeable billionaire whom we learn is more comfortable stealing from blue-collar workers than from his elite clients. But Alda clears up a misconception about Shaw. Alda notes: "Shaw is sometimes described as a Bernie Madoff-like character. I'm not sure. I don't think anyone has ever operated on the scale that Madoff did. And I don't know if what Shaw did technically qualifies as a Ponzi scheme. But in that Shaw was willing to steal money from people who really needed it—who really couldn't afford to lose it—and willing to take everything they had…yes, he's in Bernie territory, with both feet.”

It's Special Agent Claire Denham who clues in Josh about Shaw's fraudulent history and does so with swift efficiency. Leoni, whose FBI Special Agent Claire Denham knows the truth about Shaw, is the one who has to explain the cold, hard reality of the situation to Josh after he thwarts what he believes is an attempted kidnapping of The Tower's favorite resident.

Téa Leoni credits her interaction with FBI technical advisor ANNE C. BEAGAN with putting the distinctive touches on her tough-as-nails agent who has to convince Josh that Shaw is a bad guy. The actress laughs: "Agent Denham is your standard-issue, ball-breaking FBI agent. She's certainly a very tough lady, and it's not my first waltz with this type of character. However, I was able to spend some time with Anne, a great technical advisor we had on set. She's got this steely gaze that is terrifying, but what's underneath that is a very interesting lady. Beyond the technical aspects of the job, she provided so much more for me to use.”

The actress was equally impressed by her cohorts. Continues Leoni: "We had a table read in Los Angeles and as I was sitting around with this cast and listening to these strong actors who, with a minimal amount of effort, brought such a distinguished flavor to their characters, I thought, ‘We could have just shot the table read.'”

Stiller returns the compliment to his leading lady: "Téa is very believable as an FBI agent because she's smart and aggressive and has a great sense of humor. But she's also very much a New Yorker, and a lot of what this movie is about is New Yorkers and their attitudes toward life. She was a great choice for the role, and it was fun to work with her again because it had been a long time since we'd done so.”

Casey Affleck, who portrays Charlie, Josh's not-so-savvy (and broke) brother-in-law who works as The Tower's concierge, cut his teeth on the heist genre as Virgil Malloy in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven series. Still, he knew the promise of working with Stiller, Murphy and Ratner was reason enough to revisit the genre. Notes the actor: "More than anything else, I just like Ben, Eddie and Brett, and it sounded like a fun film to do. I wanted to do a comedy, and I thought this was an opportunity to try and be funny.”

With a wife on the verge of going into labor, Charlie is reluctant to join Josh's crew of amateur thieves. Grazer felt that Affleck, with his deadpan timing, was perfect for the part. "Casey continues to impress me with the fascinating choices he has made in his career,” offers the producer. "He is so droll, that with a slight vocal inflection or delivery of a minor tic, he can elicit a great number of laughs. The fact that Casey has experience in the world of heist movies made him even more perfect for the job.”

Matthew Broderick came aboard Tower Heist to portray Mr. Fitzhugh, a Wall Streeter who has suffered his own financial hardships and whose quarters in the ritzy building have been foreclosed. Despite the dire circumstances, the self-professed squatter is a financier to the core and knows the tricks of his former trade. "Fitzhugh needs the money, and greed becomes his primary motivation,” explains Broderick. "That's one thing I like about the caper movies from the 1970s like The Anderson Tapes. They really wanted the money or jewels or art. Fitzhugh's mindset harkens back to that.”

For Ratner, the chance to work with the veteran actor was another reason to be excited about showing up for work every day. He says: "When I was 12, Matthew Broderick was the biggest movie star next to Eddie Murphy, literally. I grew up on Matthew, and to have him play Fitzhugh was a great honor. I couldn't believe that he was on my set sitting next to Eddie, Ben and all of these other great actors.”

Murphy shares his director's assessment of the veteran stage and screen performer. He compliments, "Everybody in the cast is funny and likeable, and you want everybody in the cast to win. Matthew Broderick is one of my contemporaries. We came up around the same time. I've seen everything that he's done, and it was great to be on a set with a master actor.”

A compelling element of the premise that resonated with the team was the insightful social commentary, coupled with an empowering Robin Hood spirit. It jump-starts the tale of newly disenfranchised who would be driven to commit a high-stakes robbery. The writers tapped into the battered U.S. economy, whose financial meltdown occurred amidst charges of corporate mismanagement, record high unemployment and financiers defrauding their clients. They infused the material with a timeliness that made the premise all the more powerful and gave the ensemble cast much material to use.

Michael Peña, who portrays bellhop/elevator operator Dev'Reaux, the newest member of The Tower staff, appreciated this ripped-from-the-headlines aspect of the film. Dev'Reaux's freewheeling attitude rubs Josh the wrong way but also makes him a go-to guy to be a part of the heist crew. "I love this story,” Peña states, "be

Next Production Note Section

TOP

Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
Contact CinemaReview.com

2014 8,  All Rights Reserved.

Google

Find:  HELP!

Google