Thursday, 01 October 2020
Tropic Thunder
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Thursday, 21 August 2008 18:39

ThumbnailFrom the moment the fake previews started to roll before the opening credits Tropic Thunder had me hooked. This smart-stupid comedy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that takes a crack at Hollywood pompousness and every movie genre imaginable. All the while falling into exactly the same categories it’s spoofing.

This is a brave movie, managing to walk that narrow line between offensive and brilliant in it’s capacity for prodding at every open social wound imaginable. Racial slurs abound; endangered species are, well, further endangered; and then there are the handicapped jokes. While it’s true that some people may scoff and turn their noses up, an open mind will realize that the shock effect is well used and is actually a brilliant commentary on Hollywood society.

Ben Stiller directed, wrote and stars in this movie about a film crew trying to shoot a gritty war drama. The assembled cast is as much a mixed bag as the characters they portray! Stiller is Tugg Speedman, an action movie star who’s trying to bridge the gap to becoming a serious actor. His last attempt in a movie called “Simple Jack” nearly ruined his career but he feels it was his best work yet. Jack Black is comedian Jeff Portnoy, who secretly hates his own lowbrow comedy films. He’s on a path of self-destruction because people only like him for his fart jokes and ability to don a fat suit while dressed in drag. Eddie Murphy, are you listening?

Wrapping up the headliners is Robert Downey Jr. who once again pulls through with an Oscar caliber performance in an unconventional role. He plays Kirk Lazarus, a respected dramatic \actor who takes his job very seriously. The kicker, and what makes this role so interesting, is that Downey Jr. is playing an Australian actor who underwent surgery to become a black man for the role. In his own words he’s “the dude, playing the dude disguised as another dude!” It sounds ridiculous but comes off brilliantly due to the talent behind all that makeup.

With all attempts at creating this cinematic masterpiece failing, the director of this movie within a movie is forced to use guerilla tactics and send his cast to Vietnam for real. The goal is to drop them in the jungle with their scripts and have them truly experience the scenes. What they don’t realize is that things have gotten out of control and what they think is playing for the cameras is actually unfolding for real.

ThumbnailI’ve got limited space here, but it doesn’t seem fair not to mention the rest of the fantastic supporting and cameo appearances in this movie. Danny McBride isn’t a personal favorite, but sure is one to watch since he’s starring in both Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express. You’ll see other familiar faces too including Nick Nolte, Tobey Maguire, Matthew McConaughey and, yes, a nearly unrecognizable Tom Cruise.

Perhaps I’m making this sound a little grander than it really is taken at face value. Maybe all my “deep thought” will have you NOT wanting to see it, when really this is just a hilarious movie that happens to have a little more depth beneath the surface. It kept me laughing and guessing the whole way through which is praise indeed. And with The Dark Knight knocked out of the top box office spot, it seems that Tropic Thunder will be laughing all the way to the bank.