Matthew Broderick is on form too as a stuffy accountant reduced to squatting in the high-rise hotel. But the biggest surprise is Casey Affleck playing the jobsworth concierge with an endless supply of wet blankets to dampen their enthusiasm.
Initially, it's difficult to see how someone as servile as Josh (Stiller) could entertain the possibility of robbing a client, but director Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour series) rides the current wave of anti-banker bile by casting Alan Alda as smarmy Wall Street trader Arthur Shaw who cons the hotel staff out of their life savings.
It's a long build-up to snapping point. Thankfully Stiller does simmering rage very well, and it's undeniably gratifying when he finally flips his lid and takes it out on Shaw's most prized possession - a Ferrari that belonged to Steve McQueen. It's Téa Leoni as the investigating detective who suggests that Shaw may be hiding other assets in his suite.
Determined to reimburse his staff, Josh bails his shouty neighbour Slide (Murphy) out of jail to help him raid Shaw's safe. Murphy's chugging laugh and mocking wisecracks echo his 1983 classic Trading Places - where he also showed the Wall Street yuppies a thing or two - but there's slightly less charm about him this time around, perhaps because this script adheres to stereotype rather than subverting it.
Likewise, Gabourey Sidibe (Oscar-nominated for Precious) gets easy laughs as a safe-cracking Jamaican maid with a big backside and a mouth to match. Michael Pena is the laid-back Latino porter who just seems to be along for the ride. If there's a point to be made about the social scheme of things, it's not heartfelt.
Broderick at least gets sympathy with his laughs playing the middle-class guy fallen on hard times, along with Affleck representing the working Joe in pursuit of the American dream. Affleck is a delight, especially when he's promoted to manager and gives a monotone pep talk to the staff - he's kept his head down so long, he can't help stumbling. The social injustice is clear without so much focus on Shaw's crimes at the start. It leaves less time for the fun of the heist; a feat that doesn't really live up to the epic backdrop.
There is nicely choreographed action, though, delivered with a hint of slapstick as the gang try to lower the stash to ground level. But it's the petty frictions between them that keep you dangling. Much of the banter feels off the-cuff, complementing their improvised approach to grand larceny. Not quite comedy gold, but it has some shining moments.