TOWER HEIST: Movies centered around elaborate, high-risk, high-reward robberies usually begin by introducing one to the robbers. In this extremely average film, it's a group of employees at a high-rise apartment complex out to steal twenty million from a Bernie Madoff-like penthouse resident (Alan AIda) who defrauded them of their pension fund.

Led by the working-class building manager (Ben Stiller), the gang is made up of some of the most unlikely conspirators who probably couldn't pull off a "snatch and grab" at a Stripes without tripping over their own feet.

Defying all logic, they enlist the aid of a petty thief (Eddie Murphy) recruited from jail. I don't know about you but if I needed the aid of someone knowledgeable about criminal activity, I'd seek out someone able to avoid incarceration.

Be that as it may, Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson's screenplay goes through the gamut of conventions we all associate with caper films including all of the detailed planning which include some comedic touches. The heist itself is a cliff-hanging sequence set high above Manhattan during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade which is an ideal locale not to draw attention while you're pulling off a robbery. By the way, that was sarcasm for any of you who haven't figured out that I didn't care all that much for this movie.

In contrast to Alda's (THE AVIATOR) cleverly arrogant villain, Stiller (TROPIC THUNDER) doesn't seem as comfortable playing against type as mastermind of an intricate, dangerous robbery scheme. Other actors like Judd Hirsch's (ORDINARY PEOPLE) corporate general manager and Gabourey Sidibe's (PRECIOUS) Jamaican safe-cracker are given little to do in their thankless roles.

As slickly produced as this movie looks, it's totally unbelievable with far too many plot holes that remain unfilled.


CRITIC'S "DRIVE-BY" COMMENTARY: I guess God needed an iconic curmudgeon in Heaven which could explain why Andy Rooney left us so soon after his retirement as a commentator on 60 MINUTES. Maybe it's fitting since his work was his life and his passing shouldn't be downplayed as he joins a list of legendary CBS broadcasters like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite whose contributions to broadcast journalism are still being felt today. Simply put, he's irreplaceable.