The Tower (1993)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Cherry 2000


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The Tower

Lava Lamp

Our rating: three LAVA® motion lamps.

This is the Special Edition of our Tower review. It has been specially enhanaced using the latest digital technology and correct information.

The title character.
The first time we saw The Tower, it was on the Sci-Fi Channel, which is actually the only place you can see it these days, because it hasn't found its way to video yet. Now before you start complaining about a review of something you can't rent, rest assured that Sci-Fi plays this movie a lot. It will be on again, and all you have to do is figure out when and then find a friend who subscribes to that channel. Simple, huh?

At any rate, The Tower caught our attention because it stars Paul Reiser, who stars in the tv sitcom Mad About You with Helen Hunt, one of our favorite whipping-girls in the b-movie world. When we looked in the TV Guide to learn the name of the movie, we discovered that Reiser was billed under the name "Ray Palsley." Ray Palsley? Hooo boy, he knew this film was gonna stink! Since then, the credits appear to have been changed back to Paul Reiser, but we'll never forget the hilarity of that afternoon.

We don't know if Reiser has kept this movie from getting out on video, but if we were the ones in this stinker, we'd do all we could to keep it off the market, too. But when The Tower appeared on Sci-Fi this month, we caught it on tape and decided to give it a review.

To be fair, The Tower has reasonably high production values, given that it was made for tv. It's a fairly standard iteration of the "killer-android-on-the-loose" mini-genre, known as the "Killer Building." Reiser's character gets stuck in the building after hours and must survive its attempts to kill him in the name of security. The main problem is that the plot has little swiss-cheese holes all through it, and there are a few things about the film that are consistently annoying.

Problem #1: Reiser's character, Tony Minot (pronounced "my-not," but constantly mispronounced as "mee-noh"), can't seem to figure out that he's one of the most cursed individuals on the planet. Not only does he have a silly phonetic-palindrome for a name, but he's also just gotten a job in the most depressing office building in the country. And when his boss gets trapped in an overheating sauna, he diddles with the computer system in a vain attempt to turn the heat off rather than simply shooting the lock off the door with the boss' gun. This guy doesn't triumph over the odds -- he pulls bonehead moves and gets phenomenally lucky (despite being such a cursed individual, as previously mentioned).

Palsley and friend in
a very depressing office.
Problem #2: All of the characters have the John Fogerty tune "Bad Moon Rising" on the brain. No wonder the building wants to kill them: they're annoying! We hear this tune in so many variations throughout the movie that Fogerty's net worth probably doubled in value from the royalties.

Problem #3: The relationship between Paul Reiser and the other main character, Linda, is never defined. They appear to be old friends sometimes. Other times, Linda states that she hardly knows Tony. The entire situation is cloaked in a haze of mystery that we never managed to penetrate.

Problem #4: At one point, Tony is trapped on a floor that is on fire, and the building has started to pump away the oxygen to kill the fire as well Tony and Linda. Amazingly, the only heavy object Tony can find is a bowling ball, which he attempts to bowl through a window, rather than the more sensible strategy of using it like a bludgeon. Speaking of which, wouldn't 'Bowling for Oxygen' make a neat game show? And when the window breaks, there should have been an enormous fiery backdraft as the oxygen-rich air hit the fire, but the writers of the film obviously didn't spare much thought to the physics of the situation.

See what we mean?

Our real beef with this film, however, is the building itself. What kind of architect gives his building the ability to use deadly force in the name of security? Unbelievable! Who ever heard of elevator doors that can close with great enough force to kill someone? And who the heck equips an office building with a self-destruct mechanism? "Toilets will explode in ten... nine..."

The offices themselves, too, are darn depressing. Everything is cast in dark, metallic tones. We hope the office windows automatically lock -- we wanted to toss ourselves out of one after about ten minutes.

The worst part has got to be when Linda and Tony get trapped in an elevator, and decide to tough it out by doing what all people in the movies trapped in elevators do: Sing. And what do they sing? That's right, Bad Moon Rising! If one could chart Paul Reiser's career, this one scene would be the absolute nadir.

The Tower is Die Hard without any bad guys. One guy runs around an office building, breaking things. Ho-hum. It's enough to make us break things. If you'd like the opportunity to point at Paul Reiser and laugh at him, not with him, this is the movie for you.

As a postscript, some of you may know that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has moved over to the Sci-Fi Network, which means they have the run of Sci-Fi's entire movie catalog. Here's hoping The Tower makes an appearance.

(Editor's note, October 2003: It never did.)

Own it!

Review date: 01/15/1997

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