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Money Movie: Tower Heist

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Money Movie: Tower Heist

Apr 02, 2019Tyrone Wiseman

Money Movie: Tower Heist

Tower Heist is an action comedy starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.

It follows the workers of a luxury apartment complex, who discover that the billionaire living on the top floor, Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), has embezzled $2 billion in a Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately, that includes the retirement savings of the employees of the tower.

An FBI agent, Clare Denham (Tea Leoni) drunkenly tells the building’s manager Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller), she suspects Shaw hid $20 million in his penthouse as a safeguard.

So Kovacs, a pretty straight-laced guy, enlists the help of a petty crook called Slide (Eddie Murphy), to help steal the $20 million and return the funds to the employees’ retirement accounts.

Of course this isn’t easy, because the building is one of the most secure complexes in New York.

“To get in the building, we have to avoid seven exterior cameras and six doormen

 who work at two entrance points in rotating shifts. Once inside, we'll be faced 

with four security officers who monitor a bank of twelve internal cameras, 

as well as two security guards who vary the patrol route each day.”

-- Josh Kovacs [Ben Stiller]

Tower Heist

Source: The New York Times

They plan the robbery under Slide’s guidance. And as you can imagine, it doesn’t all go to plan.

There’s robbery lessons, a double-cross, a safe break, stolen cars, Steve McQueen’s red Ferrari, as well as the usual craziness that comes with anything involving Eddie Murphy.

“You know this was a bad idea, right?”

-- Slide [Eddie Murphy]

And for those that like a bit of trivia, it’s interesting to note that Donald Trump allowed some of his buildings to be used for exterior shots in the film. And some of the internal sets took inspiration from parts of his buildings.

In fact, at one stage during the script development, the movie was titled “Trump Heist”. For clarity, this is before his presidency, not referring to it. ;)

“Those in the market for think-nothing pulp should be putting 

Tower Heist at the top of their to-gawp-at list.”

-- [23 December 2011] 

Year: 2011

Rated: M


  • Ben Stiller
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Casey Affleck
  • Alan Alda
  • Mattew Broderick
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson
  • Tea Leoni
  • Michael Pena
  • Gabourey Sidibe
  • Judd Hirsch
  • Zelijko Ivanek
  • Robert Downey Sr

Learning About:

  • Hedge Funds: A head fund pools capital from individual investors and uses sophisticated and often risky investment strategies to generate high returns.
  • Ponzi scheme: A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where investment returns are promised, but there's no real investment.
    "The promoter convinces people to invest with their scheme. They then use the money deposited by early investors to pay the first 'dividend' until investors feel comfortable and decide to invest more." -- ASIC's MoneySmart

If you find this stuff interesting, you can read more about the original Ponzi scheme here:


Tower Heist is another example of art imitation life. Alan Alda's character definitely hints at similarities to Bernie Madoff (excluding the red Ferrari in his living room).

Worth a look for some light-hearted, non-thinking fun.