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The Dinner: Pretzels, mustard and a pint of Weihenstephan at Bernard's on Seneca .

The Movie: Tower Heist at Regal Meridian 16 in Downtown Seattle.

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Neither Tower Heist Nor Bernard's Pretzels Are Worth Choking Someone Over

eddiemurphyskullcap.jpg
The Dinner: Pretzels, mustard and a pint of Weihenstephan at Bernard's on Seneca.

The Movie: Tower Heist at Regal Meridian 16 in Downtown Seattle.

The Screenplate: In Tower Heist, Eddie Murphy, acting somewhat like his old SNL character in Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood, coins the term "niglet" when referring to a diminutive African-American. This marks the funniest quip in a tepidly enjoyable caper comedy that would have benefited from a lot more quips--and Murphy.

Murphy, who would have stood a chance at quite the comeback had would-be Oscar collaborator (and Tower Heist director) Brett Ratner not uttered the words "rehearsal is for fags," returns to 48 Hours form in the film--for about 15 minutes of screen time. There's potential for a dynamic buddy-thief pairing with Ben Stiller, playing the manager of a luxury Manhattan condo crew who sees their pensions squandered in a Ponzi scheme by an ultra-rich tenant (Alan Alda, basically playing Bernie Madoff). But between Stiller's awful New York accent (didn't he grow up there?) and Ratner's too-democratic deference to other name actors (Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Tea Leoni, Michael Pena, et. al.) in the cast, the two aren't given enough time to gel.

Had Ratner been intent on drawing more out of Murphy, he might have ended up with something along the lines of last year's ultra-satisfying The Other Guys, which thrived by shining a strobe light on the odd couple pairing of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg while still allowing Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Eva Mendes and Rob Riggle the space to steal a few scenes. Ultimately, Tower Heist works (barely) as a forgettable holiday popcorn flick. And it's nowhere near worth choking a cellphone scofflaw over.

If the Tower Heist crew were to draw up their grand scheme over supper in Seattle, what's the most clandestine restaurant they could pick? Bernard's on Seneca, in the basement of the Hotel Seattle, is a veritable dungeon of secrecy, where lawyers go to knock back a few after work, or take umbrage from an impending tsunami. (Bernard's now features live music every Friday at 9, for those keeping tabs on the city's unlikeliest concert venues.) While it serves a full German menu throughout the day, around 4 every weeknight, Bernard's offers up free appetizers, ranging from taquitos and franks to warm, salted pretzels.

The pretzels aren't anything to write home about, but they're free. And free is precisely the right price for a team of service industry workers who've just been scammed out of their pensions and are hungry for revenge.

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