The last time a movie starring Eddie Murphy (in the flesh) did well at the box office was back in 2007 and in that case it was Norbit. The less said about that “comedy,” the better.
Now Murphy has signed on for Brett Ratner’s new project, the caper flick Tower Heist, which could be a step in the right direction for the highly-paid actor – if nothing else, at least he won’t be donning a fat suit or playing a spaceship controlled by a miniature version of himself (don’t ask).
Tower Heist revolves around a group of maintenance workers (including both Murphy and Ben Stiller) whose pension funds were looted by a corrupt Wall Street type (Alan Alda). It turns out that Alda’s character is now not only under house arrest, but also happens to live in the high-end Manhattan apartment complex that Murphy and his crew work at. The disenfranchised men then hatch a plan to rob the old man, using their knowledge of the building’s inner workings.
This project was originally titled Trump Heist and was envisioned as a “black ‘Ocean’s Eleven’” that would star Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Chris Tucker. Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) was eventually selected to rewrite the script, which now sounds like much more of a broader comedy than any of the Ocean’s pics were.
It’s easy to forget that Murphy actually received an Oscar nomination for his performance as James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls, which hit theaters just four years ago. The former Beverly Hills Cop star followed up that role with the aforementioned, critically-despised flick Norbit and the only financial hits to feature his name since have been the Shrek movies.
Ratner is not exactly a well-renowned filmmaker and it would be a stretch to say that Tower Heist sounds like it will be a surefire return to form for Murphy. The premise for the movie is not as contrived and far less inane than that of the comedian’s more recent films, so this could be a decent move on Murphy’s part – besides, at least it’s not The Nutty Professor 3, right?