Allan Alda is Arthur Shaw, a Bernie Madoff character whose Ponzi scheme defrauded his clients out of millions of dollars. Among those burned were the employees of his luxury high rise. Having lost his pension plan, the building’s manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) concocts a plan to break into Shaw’s apartment and steal his $20 million stash. When his posse of employees prove to be less than criminally adept, Kovacs brings in an old friend and ex-con, Slide (Eddie Murphy), to help.
Richard: Mark, it’s nice to see Eddie Murphy in a movie that allows him to drop his beloved family entertainer guise and bring back some of the bravado that we loved in movies like 48 Hours. It’s just too bad the movie feels like it was made 30 years ago. Despite its Bernie Madoff storyline it feels old-fashioned.
MB: Of course it feels old-fashioned. It’s an Eddie Murphy movie circa 1990. If not for the hairstyles, you could almost believe it was an unreleased film from that era finally freed from some legal limbo. But you have to admit, it’s great to see Murphy doing the kind of work he should have been doing over the last two decades. So, sure the plot feels hackneyed. But it’s the fine ensemble cast that makes this thing click. My favourite? Matthew Broderick. Yours, Richard?
RC: For me it was Michael Pena. Great comic timing, perpetual dazed look on his face. He and Murphy were the high points for me. It was interesting, however, to see Ben Stiller as the straight man to Murphy’s wisecracks. Loved hearing Murphyisms like, “I will blow your face clean off your face!”
MB: Well, I haven’t liked Stiller in anything for quite a while, and I appreciated his comic restraint here, penance perhaps for all his shameless mugging in those Night at The Museum movies. I will admit the whole enterprise does have a retro vibe, including Tea Leoni and Alan Alda in key roles, but Gabourey Sidibe freshens up the cast in a comic turn a million light years from what she did in Precious.
RC: She is a pleasant surprise. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the actual robbery, despite a few twists here and there, was completely unbelievable. I don’t mind suspending part of my disbelief but the sheer lunacy of the crime took me out of the movie.
MB: I went with it because it was fun, if not credible. But I must say I enjoy the irony of any film that critiques the class system in America starring actors each worth half a billion dollars.