Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tropic Thunder

At first, you may not understand what the hell is going on, but pay close attention, the opening scenes to Tropic Thunder are some of the funniest screen moments you’ve seen in a while.

After our main characters are brilliantly introduced, we are thrown into an over the top action sequence being filmed for a huge Hollywood film (called Tropic Thunder). Co-writer and director Ben Stiller stars as chauvinistic, not so good actor Tugg Speedman. He’s supported by funny man Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and super-talented, five time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (a side-splitting Robert Downey Jr.).

The three are adapting the true story of Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), a Vietnam veteran who wrote a bestseller based on his time in the war. Before long, their in-over-his-head director (Steve Coogan) enlists his actors to go off in the jungle by themselves and film the movie “gorilla” style, with dozens of hidden cameras.

The actors are too dimwitted to realize that after a few minutes, they aren’t being filmed, but rather being chased by an army of heroin drug lords, who mistake the actors for the DEA. But enough with plot, lets get to the good stuff.

Tropic Thunder has been hit with a lot of controversy, mainly because of the “profane” way it talks about mentally handicapped people. The main conversation in question is when Downey Jr. explains to Stiller how you can never go “full retard” for a film role and expect to win an Oscar. The conversation is funny in and of itself, but made more so due to Downey’s hilarious antics. His character is an Australian who has dyed his skin black to portray an African American soldier, (more controversy).

The thing to keep in mind is that these offensive words are being spoken from complete morons. These are people who care only for themselves and have no hesitation to speak poorly about others. The screenplay, by Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen, doesn’t make these speeches hip. They are making the point that if you talk this way, you really aren’t that intelligent.

In terms of content and plot, Tropic Thunder is a ridiculous film, but the beauty of it is that it knows it’s absurd. And while Downey Jr. proves that he is at the top of his game with yet another hit this summer, there is a scene stealing performance in this film from an actor who has been down and out recently. If you don’t know, then don’t ask. Just look out for that fat, bald, dancing man. You’ll be stunned. B+


  1. Great film, but what do you think about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?
    What grade would you give it?

    1. That movie actually did nothing for me. I'd give it a D+.