Friday, November 4, 2011

Tower Heist: From Great Men To Little People

The first image shown is that of American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, on the $100 bill.
The last image shown is Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) being escorted into jail for two years for burglary.
At one point in the film, I had hoped that Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) was actually going to be innocent, and that everyone who had wanted to triple their portfolios learned that when you play the market you are gambling. I do NOT want to sound mean or insensitive to so many people who have been swindled by the stock market and brokers who have violated their trust; but the stock market, and this week's opener Tower Heist does illustrate how we liberally interpret what belongs to us and what we are willing to do to keep it... or get it back.
Before I go any further, I want to say a word about what makes this site different from others: I don't really rate entertainment value, acting ability, special effects or predict Oscar contenders; I try to decipher the social document that I believe films are, why they are made, why so much money is invested in making them, why they are such a big part of American culture and why we enjoy them so much. I think the audience I watched the film with really enjoyed it, and the chances are, you will too. I think everyone gave good performances, it was a "tight" script (no dangling ends) and the cinematography was good.
The opening image of Tower Heist. The image of the $100 bill is on the floor of the swimming pool, suggesting that Tower residents are "swimming in money" and that the image of successful people is directly tied to money. Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) says that stock market fraud, "At some point, stops being about securities and is a matter of catering," to keep up the appearance of success, wealth and happiness.
The film makes a point to show how psychologically demeaning Mr. Shaw is to Josh and some how, that's supposed to right the grand theft Josh plans. It's the opening image of Benjamin Franklin, however, which haunted me throughout the film, the image of the Founding Father (who had his own problems and issues, no doubt) who stood for something and what he stood for is what this country would stand for, too (along with all the other Founding Fathers). What we consider this country to be today is naught more than a way to make money, lots of it as quickly as possible, and that's what Tower Heist upholds.
America is the land of those enslaved to money.
Ben Stiller as Josh Kovacs and Matthew Broderick as Mr. Fitzhugh.
Mr. Shaw is fond of calling Josh a little person who is easily replaced, but when it comes to it, everyone involved proves how little they are from the FBI agent (Tea Leoni) to the maid (Gabourey Sidibe), smaller than the paper bills that have been stolen; no one learns any lessons in this film and no one comes out a better person; only gold doesn't tarnish, but the human soul does. Tower Heist proves that we are on a "sliding" moral scale, and that not only has our credit been downgraded, so too, have our moral standards.
We were a nation of great men, and now we are a nation of little people.
Before Slide (Eddie Murphy) agrees to help Josh and the others, they go to a mall and Slide tells them to each steal $50 worth of merchandise, and makes them leave their wallets on the table to they can't buy the merchandise and claim they stole it. This is proof that this is a corrupt film, and no "It's okay to take something back that someone stole from you," the way the trailer leads you to believe (which still isn't okay)  because each one of them comes back after successfully stealing at least $50 worth of merchandise, and it appears that each item is actually worth more than that. When they return, Slide has stolen all the money from their wallets, and that's rather like us, the audience, who bring our morals with us and by the end of the film, they've been stolen.