Eddie Murphy has joined the cast of Brett Ratner’s upcoming film Tower Heist. The film centers on an over-worked building manager (played by Ben Stiller) who leads the building’s staff in an attempt to loot a Bernie Madoff-style crook (played by Alan Alda) who lives in the penthouse. Deadline doesn’t say what role Murphy will play, but it’s surprising to see him costar when he usually flies solo. Of course, the solo flights haven’t been working out too well as Murphy’s last two live-action outings, Imagine That and Meet Dave, have tanked at the box office.
Interestingly, Murphy has been mentioned as a possible cast member for years, going back to when the project was called “Trump Heist” and was styled as an African-American version of Ocean’s Eleven. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the project now that Murphy’s on board.
While I would like to believe that Murphy might up his game if he’s part of a strong ensemble, I’m more convinced by an argument Nathan Rabin made when dissecting The Adventures of Pluto Nash for “My Year of Flops”. Rabin’s argument is that Murphy is “a victim of his own apathy and ruthless lack of creative ambition.” It’s a tragedy because Murphy is a talented performer. But somewhere along the way it became about fat suits and lowest-common-denominator family fare. While I’m interested to see how Murphy will play off of Stiller (and any other cast members who come along), his involvement doesn’t help overcome the project’s biggest turn-off point: “A Brett Ratner Film”.
To be clear, I don’t hate Brett Ratner. I just don’t think he’s a particularly good filmmaker. I believe his real talent lies in producing. Deadline also reports that Jeff Nathanson (Rush Hour 2 and 3) is rewriting the script, and that doesn’t fill me with confidence either. While I think Tower Heist has a somewhat intriguing premise, there’s nothing that’s putting it on my radar.