Eddie Murphy, Gabby Sidibe Steal the Show

In Tower Heist, Murphy returns to the action-comedy genre that he defined in the 1980s.

“I saw a lot of comedy in Precious, and I spend most of my money on comedies,” Sidibe said.

A hilarious highlight of the film is an improvised scene in which Odessa flirts with Murphy’s character. As Odessa schools him on the proper way to unlock a safe, she coyly asks him if he’s married, soliciting a surprisingly intrigued response from Slide.

“I was really afraid of that scene where I had to flirt with him — up until when Brett [Ratner] says ‘Action.’ Then I kind of just, like, let it go and was like, ‘Hmmm, let’s see if I can bone Eddie Murphy,’ ” she told reporters at a recent press conference for the film.

As for a real-life romance between Sidibe and Murphy, it would be a dream come true for Sidibe, who jokingly admitted to a longtime crush on Murphy. “I don’t know if you’ve seen him in The Golden Child, but he wore a lot of leather suits, and there’s nothing sexier than a black man in a leather suit,” Sidibe said.

With Occupy Wall Street protests cropping up across the globe and angry working-class citizens protesting the ugly habits of the rich, Tower Heist may be this year’s best big-screen example of art mimicking life. There aren’t many surprises in the plot, which sticks to a never-fails feel-good theme: poor folks beating conniving rich folks at their own game. It does deviate in that it infuses comedy into what is really a tragic exploitation of hardworking people, the inevitable result of having two mega-comedians, Murphy and Stiller, leading the cast.

It’s unlikely, however, that Tower Heist will be as iconic as the Eddie Murphy action comedies before it. Perhaps, if Murphy’s original idea for the film — bringing together an all-black superstar cast of comedians including Martin Lawrence, Dave Chappelle, Chris Tucker, Mike Epps and Katt Williams — had been realized, Tower Heist might have been the kind of gut-bustingly funny that we’ve come to love and expect from Murphy. But the film is fun, light and worth watching — and its rich-vs.-poor storyline is eerily appropriate for the times.

Akoto Ofori-Atta is assistant editor at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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