Most people wouldn’t concoct an idea for an action-comedy film out of boredom. But most folks aren’t Eddie Murphy.
“I wanted to get out of the house and do some stuff,” Murphy said at a press conference last month about coming up with the plot for Tower Heist. “I’d been sitting around the house too long.”
Conceptualized by Murphy in 2005, the film follows condominium staff members as they seek justice — and revenge — from a Bernie Madoff-esque banker who milked members of the crew for their pensions.
Murphy couldn’t have cast anyone better than himself in this film, since few actors do action comedy better than he does. In 1982 Murphy broke new ground with 48 Hours, in which he plays a former convict out to catch a cop killer. In the Beverly Hills Cop series, which began two years later, he plays a street-savvy cop looking to avenge the murder of his best friend. The series brought Murphy international fame, and he ascended the throne as the king of action comedies.
“There would be no Rush Hour series if it wasn’t for Eddie,” said Rush Hour and Tower Heist director Brett Ratner. “Not only was [Tower Heist] Eddie’s idea, but in a lot of ways, he invented the genre.”
In Tower Heist, Ben Stiller plays Josh Kovaks, the workaholic manager of a luxury condominium off of New York City’s Central Park. Josh seeks payback after he discovers that he and his staff have been entangled in a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by his billionaire penthouse tenant. With only days to act before the Wall Street crook gets away with the crime, Josh assembles a crew to steal $20 million that he believes is hidden in the penthouse.
His accomplices include Slide, a petty crook played by Murphy; not-so-bright Charlie (Casey Affleck); fidgety and nervous Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick); and down-for-whatever bellhop Enrique (Michael Peña). Gabourey Sidibe plays Odessa, a fiery, Jamaican-born maid who doubles as a seasoned lock picker.
While her Jamaican accent teeters between somewhat believable and what seems like purposely bad, Sidibe’s performance showcases her versatility. Her role as Odessa, which seems a world away from her gritty debut role in Precious, was not much of a stretch for Sidibe, who sees a parallel between the two.