Twenty-five years ago, Matthew Broderick took a spin in a vintage red Ferrari and ran into some big trouble in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Now he’s back in “Tower Heist” — in which another red Ferrari plays a similarly pivotal role (and comes in for a different yet equally memorable bruising).
“Tower Heist” director Brett Ratner said any similarities to the 1986 John Hughes classic and his film were subconscious for him. Instead, he said he was inspired by seeing a luxury car on display in the living room of actor Nicolas Cage, whom he directed in 2000’s “The Family Man.”
In “Tower Heist,” the audience meets the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso in the penthouse apartment of Arthur Shaw, a Bernie Madoff-type character played by Alan Alda. (The car in “Ferris Bueller” was a 1961 Ferrari GT California.)
The Ferrari becomes central to the “Tower Heist” plot as characters played by Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Broderick conspire to rob Shaw after his Ponzi scheme is exposed. In the movie, Shaw says the car was previously owned by Steve McQueen.
The "King of Cool" really did own a 250 GT Lusso. But the rare sports car sells for around $1 million at auctions, so Ratner, et al. didn’t have the luxury of getting the real deal. Ratner had two replicas built, both without engines to make them lighter and rigged for stunt shots.
At one point in “Tower Heist,” Stiller’s character smashes the windows of the car with a golf club. Even though everyone knew it was a replica, “it was painful” to watch, Ratner said, “especially for my Italian cinematographer.”
The windows of the replica car used for that scene were replaced after filming. Universal Pictures owns one of the fake Ferraris, and Ratner took home the other. He also owns the Corvette from his movie “Rush Hour” and a car from the 1995 crime film “Dead Presidents.”
Though the Ferrari replica will reside in Ratner’s garage, he hopes it will also inhabit the minds of wheels-loving boys who see “Tower Heist.”
“I want it to be what the ‘Risky Business’ Porsche was for that movie. I had that poster on my wall when I was [young],” Ratner said. “That would be the ultimate — I hope to do for 12-year-olds seeing this movie what that car did for me.”
— Emily Rome
Photo: The replica 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso in "Tower Heist." Credit: Universal Pictures