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Tower Heist Trailer: Eddie Murphy, Prince of Thieves

There are plenty of big faces in the just released trailer for Tower Heist: Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, a spicily accented Gabourey Sidibe and an apparently invested, Axel Foley-ish, Eddie Murphy. But the quality of the film will actually be determined by some smaller names hidden near the end of the thing: Brett Ratner and Ted Griffin. Ratner, the director, is a hack’s hack, the self-promoting fauxteur responsible for the worst X-Men movie, the worst Hannibal Lecter film, and all three Rush Hours. Griffin, on the other hand, is the diamond-sharp writer of Ocean’s Eleven and the late, lamented FX series Terriers, who apparently contributed enough words to Tower Heist to at least get his name on the poster. (The list of ghostwriters suspected to have left their pawprints on the script, including Noah Baumbach [!], is depressingly long — and Googleable.) While the pairing of straight-laced, short-fused Stiller with the re-adrenelized Murphy — and their attempts to steal back their $20 million dollars from Alda’s larcenous, high-living Bernie Madoff stand-in — is noteworthy, the more interesting collision is the one that went on behind the scenes. The zippily paced, standard-issue heist scenes — getting the gang together, making sure the gang has ski masks instead of the “much warmer” ski hats — suggest Griffin, but Sidibe’s lock-breaking pillow-talk with Murphy is pure Ratner. Come November, we’ll know for sure whether the film shoots for the penthouse or stumbles into the subcellar.