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Digital Divide: March 2012

| February 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Is there a group of people more reviled these day than Wall Street brokers? The answer, of course, depends on whether the placard you have on your front lawn includes an elephant or a donkey. Oh sure, Congress is an easy target for the general public’s scorn, but let’s face it: there really isn’t a single member of that hallowed institution smart enough to make a believable film villain, right?

In the old days it was pretty cut and dried: good guys and bad guys. The bad guys were the ones trying to pull off the robbery, while the good guys were the ones trying to stop them.

My, how times change. In the current world we live in, things aren’t that simple. In a film like Tower Heist, we get bad guys trying to rob an even worse guy, with the good guys only making a token effort to stop them.

Ya following?

Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovacs, a building manager at a swanky New York condo development conveniently called The Tower. Kovacs is an amiable sort who honestly loves his job and wants the best for those who work around him. To that end, he entrusts the employee retirement account to the Tower’s most noted resident: top-notch financier Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). What Kovacs doesn’t know is that Shaw is on the cusp of being indicted for fraud, and there’s virtually no way any of the workers will ever see a dime of their pension.

After a coworker commits suicide because of Shaw’s actions, and upon learning that there may be $20 million hidden somewhere in Shaw’s penthouse suite, Kovacs hatches a plan to swipe it out from under the noses of both Shaw and the FBI.

Along for the ride of this little scheme is a group including fellow Tower workers Charlie and Odessa (Casey Affleck and Gabourey Sidibe), down-on-his-luck former Tower resident Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) as well as petty criminal Slide (Eddie Murphy).

The bad news about Tower Heist is that while it tries to be Ocean’s 11 for the 99-percent, there are simply too many plot holes and coincidences in the heist itself for it to be anything more than an Occupy fantasy.

On the bright side, the performances are spot on. Stiller has the tendency to try to be the funniest guy on the planet, and therefore goes so far over the top that he’s just overbearingly annoying. (Think Zoolander or Dodgeball.) He’s at his best when he relaxes the shtick and lets the character do the work. Here, he’s the perfect mix of workaday schmo with a simmering pot of justifiable outrage. Alda is also brilliant as the obvious Bernie Madoff clone, and Murphy finally returns to a role that lets him stretch out and be the Eddie Murphy we remember.

The Blu-ray features two alternate endings, a blooper reel, and an exhaustive “making of” feature entitled “Plotting Tower Heist” that includes just about anyone and everyone involved in the film.

Film: Features:

Styx: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live
Eagle Vision

Paleontologists tell the tales of an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and were feared as gods. These creatures would invade your territory and trample everything in sight, all the while making the most terrifying noise one could possibly imagine.

The era was the late ’70’s, and the people loved it.

Believe it or not there was a time when Styx was that marauding brontosaurus — laying waste to arenas throughout the land. Now, like many of their fellow antiquated brethren, they realize that they can go on the road, play two of their most famous albums from A to Z, and reintroduce themselves to a new generation. Rush has done it, as well as Metallica and Slayer, to name a few.

Unfortunately, the concept kinda runs aground with Styx, simply because the guy responsible for half the original material isn’t there. Sure, original album players Tommy Shaw and James Young are on hand to make it happen, but love him or hate him, Dennis DeYoung is nowhere to be found, and without him to carry the load on the songs he wrote, it might as well be a cover band. Mind you, it’s a good cover band, but it really isn’t the same.

— Timothy Hiatt

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Category: Columns, Digital Divide, Monthly

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