Friday, August 22, 2008

Tropic Thunder

I have been excited about the prospect of Tropic Thunder for months. I do have a special place in my heart for movies about making movies; add to that the prospect of Robert Downey Jr. and a huge amount of advanced buzz and I was pretty sure that there was no way I could dislike Tropic Thunder.

I adored Tropic Thunder.

Everything about the film was funny to me, but I do not think I have laughed harder in years at a movie. Every time Robert Downey Jr. opened his mouth to deliver a line about the inner workings of Holylwood or the craft of acting I could not stop laughing.

This film has gotten a lot of heat because it is “controversial” and “insensitive”. What drives me nuts is that with these kinds of films (the same with Dogma) people jump to conclusions without seeing them in the text of the film.

Are the jokes about Simple Jack the retard insensitive? Yes. But what they fail to see is that they are more insensitive towards why Tugg Speedman chose to play Jack than the mental condition of the character. The entire joke is based around the insensitivity of Hollywood towards the individual and the outsider, and that their main goal is to win awards and make money – period. This is actually the theme of the entire movie; somehow Ben Stiller and the writing team found a way to poke fun at the system while completely endorsing the system to get the movie made.

Tropic Thunder is filled to the brim with cameos, inside jokes and memorable characters that completely endorse the Hollywood stereotype that people believe in. While I adored all of the stars and cemeos in this film I do have to say that two people stood out for me as my favorites – Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise is Les Grossman, the head of the studio that is making the movie within Tropic Thunder - Tropic Thunder. This is the tent pole movie of the decade for the studio and Les is personally involved, even getting people to assault the films director as he is on teleconference thousands of miles away and cannot do it himself. This role is the Tom Cruise I know, love and have missed ever since his couch jumping incident; this is the Tom Cruise that is in the business because he loves it, and is the biggest star in the world without trying to be anyone but himself – the Tom Cruise that does things because he knows his fans will enjoy it.

This truly is the summer of Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man was brilliant, and I think Tropic Thunder was made by his portrayal of Kirk Lazarus – Australian method actor, multi-award winner, who is so committed to the role that he has undergone a procedure to dye his skin black so he can portray the platoons sergeant. This role is one of the funniest I have seen since my personal favorite comedy Blazing Saddles where I fell in love with Gene Wilder’s Jim.

I highly recommend Tropic Thunder to all. It is a highly enjoyable movie that will entertain adults to no end. Just remember to go in knowing that this movie is not PG-13, and that the jokes are meant to be taken within the context of the film – a knowledge of film history helps as well.

Director: Ben Stiller
Writers: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Ethan Cohen
Kirk Lazarus: Robert Downey Jr.
Jeff Portnoy: Jack Black
Tugg Speedman: Ben Stiller
Kevin Sandusky: Jay Baruchel
Alpa Chino: Brandon T. Jackson
Damien Cockburn: Steve Coogan
Cody: Danny McBride
Four Leaf: Nick Nolte
Rick Peck: Matthew McConaughey
Les Grossman: Tom Cruise

Kirk Lazarus: I don't read the script. The script reads me.


Christina said...

Just saw it last night. Could not stop laughing! Amazing. Cruise and Downey completely stole the show. And I like your commentary on the "insensitivity" toward the mentally impaired. The whole point is that it's Hollywood that's insensitive! Anyway, comedy should be this good more often.

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