Tower Heist

  • Review Date: November 4, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Brisk, fun heist movie has some language, sex talk.
  • Review Date: November 4, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
10
11
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17

Quality(i)

 

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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 release date:February 21, 2012
Cast:Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Eddie Murphy
Director:Brett Ratner
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language and sexual content

This review of Tower Heist was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
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  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Parent Written bymovie and popcorn November 5, 2011
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Think twice before bringing the kids...

The language was horrible. I was shrinking in my seat with my 10 year old next to me. My ten year old is very mature but there were so many inappropriate scenes I was happy when he needed to use the restroom in the middle of the movie. There is also many sexual references including the mention of lesbians at least 6 times in a row during the characters dialogue. I really would have enjoyed this movie much more if I would have come without the kids. My 10 year old even asked why they had to swear so much.. it did not add to the movie at all.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written bytsh9696 March 23, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Questionable Rating

I turned it off after the first 5 minutes (or perhaps less). Too much about anatomy, sexual activity. Others may feel that is fine, or 'iffy' for 12 and 13 year olds. I don't.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written bydragongleem November 13, 2011
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

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

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