Tower Heist Movie Poster Image

Tower Heist

Brisk, fun heist movie has some language, sex talk.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Robin Hood-esque main characters want to steal from the rich to give to the working class who have been hoodwinked by a finance mogul. While their means may not be legal, their intentions are good, and most of them seek nothing more than justice.

Positive role models

Kovacs is an idealist who wants to make things right when his entire staff is defrauded. He exacts revenge by committing a crime -- which the movie presents as justified since it's apparently righting wrongs. He treats his staff respectfully and is well-liked.


Cars careen through the streets of New York during a high-speed chase, and guns are fired. A woman rams a man with a utility cart, and a man vandalizes a car in rage. Characters cuss each other out, and one attempts suicide. But no one is seriously, physically hurt.


Frequent innuendo; use of sexual words like "screwing," "balls," "t--ties," etc. Some cleavage/women in risque clothing. Talk of making out and getting lucky. References to having sex, prostitution.


Many uses of "s--t"; also "d--k," "son of a bitch," "prick," "a--hole," "ass," "hell," "banging," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.


A fair amount of product placement and signage, including Canon, Playboy, Chase Manhattan, Ralph Lauren, Cuisinart, DeVry Technical Institute, and Nathan's hot dogs. One character is so ostentatious about his wealth that he has a rooftop pool made to look like currency and an expensive car displayed in his penthouse for show.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A woman gets inebriated while at a pub with a guy she sort of likes. Some social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this Ben Stiller/Eddie Murphy comedy appears to have been inspired by Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, it's not heavy-handed and is likely to appeal to teens who are fans of either of the stars or director Brett Ratner's action movies. Expect plenty of high-octane scenes -- car chases, a Ferrari dangling from 50 stories high, etc. -- as well as a fair amount of swearing (particularly "s--t"), product placement, and sexual innuendoes/references to sex. The characters' scheme is a crime, but they're presented as Robin Hood-esque in their motivations.

What's the story?

Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) is the most important of all the important residents of the Tower, a posh Manhattan residential high-rise run by building manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller). They don't have very much in common, except perhaps a love of online chess. But Shaw, in what first appeared to be a magnanimous act, agreed to manage the staff's pensions; it seemed like a good thing, since he's a stock-market whisperer of sorts who's able to eke out dividends when no one else can. But when Shaw is accused of fraud, Kovacs realizes that he and everyone else might have been duped, their money gone forever. How can they get it back? Can justice be served? And will Kovacs' burgeoning interest in FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni), who's guarding Shaw, complicate matters?

Is it any good?


If you're seeking escape, you'll get it from TOWER HEIST. Not an escape from the news, exactly, since the movie's main storyline -- an obscenely wealthy money manager is arrested for defrauding his clients, who include the staff at his tony NYC residential building -- seems ripped from the Bernie Madoff headlines. Nor from the usual cliches of action movies. But the film is certainly entertaining enough to be an escape from daily life. Co-stars Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and the rest of the gang have perfect chemistry -- essential in a movie that's positing them as a band of brothers of sorts.


Nevertheless, you have to ask: Why does Broderick only get shlubby roles these days? And does anyone care about the plot, which isn't exactly bulletproof? (There are plenty of inconsistencies, and a romance between two main characters is predictable and doesn't really add anything to the proceedings.) Be that as it may, the film is still a delight. Watching the crime itself unfold in what may be one of the most hectic days in the city -- in the middle of the Thanksgiving Day parade -- gives it added oomph. Tower Heist has chutzpah, and the action builds satisfyingly, and that's more than can be said about so many other, momentum-less movies.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the characters' motivations. Are they justified in wanting to get revenge? Is it ever justifiable to commit a crime to right a wrong?

  • Does the movie seem skewed toward the perpetrators? Why? And should it be? Would you have as much sympathy for the characters if they were real-life people?

  • How does the movie address class and race? Does it undermine stereotypes or reinforce them? Are the characters a realistic depiction of life in New York?

  • Do you think people who commit Ponzi schemes start off expecting to defraud people, or do you think they accidentally end up in that situation when they take a big risk that fails? How should the legal system punish criminals who steal people's life savings?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 4, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:February 21, 2012
Cast:Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Eddie Murphy
Director:Brett Ratner
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language and sexual content

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Teen, 14 years old Written bySpielberg00 November 8, 2011

All right. Not what I expected from a four star review. Gosh.

My rating: PG-13 for frequent language, some sexual references and recklessly violent action.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bydragongleem November 13, 2011

fun to see!

over all i LOVED it my mom wonted to leave right away but the sexual themes died down to almost none but there is a lot of strong language used not in the high catagory but low to a mild mediem. i thought it was sweet and at the end (I liked it) but it seemed to end abroutly (said my mom)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byhypemiitrudog07 June 15, 2013

Great movie but mind the language and the humor

Plot: A wall street defrauder (/investment stealer), Arthur Shaw is caught, and makes the mistake of telling his employees that he took their pensions to make more investments. The building manager, Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) decides to take matters into his own hands and find Shaw's money. Teaming up with Ben Stiller is Slide (Eddie Murphy) a petty crook whom repeatedly gets caught, Charlie the concierge (Casey Affleck), Mr Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) a victim of Arthur Shaw's con schemes, Enrique the new elevator operator (Michael Peña), Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) the Jamaican cleaning lady being threatened with deportion (or being sent out of a country). Problems Sex: A tutorial on safe cracking is given in a suggestive manner. 2 security guards are distracted by a french playboy, where "the woman are more [email protected]" according to an off duty worker. A man says he will be having $3% with a person. A man mentions that his wife's water broke (or the baby is coming out). Violence: Peril, person repeatedly strikes at a car, guns are pulled but not used, woman bashes door guard so that he faints Drugs: Characters are seen at a bar Language: @$$ and $#!+ are used several times, names are called (a fat woman thinks a comment about "the elephant" is pointed at her) Consumerism: Arthur Shaw is such a rich con man, he has a pool on top of his penthouse with a dollar bill painted on the bottom. He also has one of Steve McQueen's car, and it can be implied that several residents are rich. Toys R Us is also shown Positive messages/Things to talk about: Parents should ask kids about how justified the heist seemed. Most of the people committing the heist are poor, and their pensions were taken. Does this justify the heist? Does it seem any more justified because the money was split among everyone? Why did certain characters not trust others? Positive Role models: Each character eventually gets along and is able to be treating. Despite being a crook, Slide gives good instructions and does not act like a mole in the movie. Quality: Tower Heist is a very funny movie which will appeal to older teenagers. It is not going to make them laugh out loud, but they will probably find some of the stuff to be funny. I watched and personally enjoyed it. Tower Heist made my friend laugh (they have very huge sense of humor, particularly those at other's expense) and it intrigued me.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking