The simple premise of this suburban comedy — about a group of dads who
form a neighborhood watch group to patrol their block, but soon discover
an extraterrestrial menace threat far beyond their control — feels like
a lazy opportunity for Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill to hang
out and crack wise on the studio dime.
Fast paced and fluffy,
Tower Heist is a spectacle-laden comedy with widespread
appeal. Even Alan Alda's Bernie Madoff-styled antagonist gets a soft
treatment so as not to offend the "1 percent" of potential
audience members his evil character represents.
Rather than devoting time to tracking what could have been the comic evolution of the relationship between male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his former CIA agent father-in-law Frank (Robert De Niro), director Paul Weitz seemingly ended up dangling money before his performers to get them to react on cue in this rote, terribly unfunny exercise. Grade: D-.
As New Yorker Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller), recovering from a recent mental breakdown, settles into his new role in Los Angeles as his brother's house-sitter, Stiller as an actor takes us right up to the edge, jumps off and dares us to reach out to catch him before he plummets out of reach. It's a balls-out move, especially considering that his Greenberg is a loathsome person. Grade: A-.
I never saw the first 'Night at the Museum,' but there are times when you just know everything you need to know about a movie from a trailer, especially those aimed at the broadest audience possible. And this latest installment looks just as silly, mainly because I've come to realize that I just don't have a thing for Ben Stiller's brand of humor. Grade D.