updated 11/04/2011 AT 1:35 PM ET
•originally published 11/04/2011 AT 5:00 PM ET
More accurately, he’s way back – all the way to the pugnacious, raunchy comic of 48 HRS. and Trading Places. (If you’re as sick as I am of seeing him in dresses and fat suits, this is cause for celebration.)
Tower Heist is an ensemble comedy, but it’s appropriate to start with Murphy, because the energy picks up significantly when his convict character, Slide, joins his neighbor Josh (Ben Stiller) in a plot to steal $20 million.
For a thief, Josh’s heart is firmly in the right place. The luxury condo manager hopes to recover his staff’s lost pensions, swindled by snide penthouse-dweller Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda).
Also along for the heist: broke banker Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick, liberally pouring the whine), and maid Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe, holding her own with the cast’s comedy vets).
Moviegoers attached to notions like “plausibility” and “the laws of physics” might get frustrated, as Tower Heist’s final act dares you not to roll your eyes in disbelief. Still, it’s easily funny enough to snare the rest of us.