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Tropic Thunder (SE)
DVD disk
12.03.2008 By: Jillian Coyle
Tropic Thunder (SE) order
Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller
Robert Downey Jr.
Jack Black


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Whatís it about? A director sets out to make a realistic, gritty, Vietnam War movie with a group of famous actors. Their gigantic egos and diva-esque needs prevent the movie from being made on schedule or in the way the director wants it to be made, so he kidnaps the actors and sets the loose in the jungle to shoot the movie guerilla-style. Heís almost immediately killed thus leaving the actors on their own to get out of the mess (without realizing theyíre on their own).
This movie is a hilarious depiction of all the personalities, egos and behind the scenes drama that makes Hollywood what it is today. The script hilariously jumps over the line in its depictions of method acting for a white man playing a black man and Ben Stiller playing a mentally handicapped character. Those one-liners and anecdotes manage to make the larger themes about what the industry has become manageable and even funny. Agent Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey) is genuinely unsure whether to let his client (Ben Stiller) die in order to get his own jet courtesy of a frightening studio head, Les Grossman (Tom Cruise). Part of the comedy is in the ridiculously overacted scenes, but Robert Downey Jr. pulls off a masterful performance as Kirk Lazarus.

The movie itself is shot like a classic Hollywood blockbuster. The Cinematographer, John Toll, worked on VANILLA SKY and ALMOST FAMOUS, which guaranteed the movie would look incredible throughout. Since Ben Stiller wrote, directed and starred in this film, thereís a feeling of cohesion throughout the movie. The fact that he spent almost 10 years working on it didnít hurt his passion for getting it made, either, and that comes across in his character and in those around him. The whole movie is well made, well written and well acted.
Disc 1:

Filmmaker Commentary with Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Stuart Cornfeld, Jeff Mann, John Toll and Greg Hayden: This is an ok commentary; itís all of the usual commentary information. If youíre only going to listen to one of the two, listen to the cast commentary with Robert Downey Jr.

Cast Commentary with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.: Robert Downey Jr. makes this commentary a must watch by doing the entire thing in character. Do not watch this movie without listening to this commentary at some point.

Disc 2:

Before the Thunder: This five-minute interview with several of the writers and producers talking about how they came up with the concept for the film and how long it took. Itís short and a lot of cool people talk about the film, so itís worth your time.

The Hot LZ- This feature talks about how they made the big battle scene they were shooting at the beginning. If youíve watched special features from any actual war movies, this probably wonít be all that impressive, but itís still cool and interesting to hear from all of the people involved.

Blowing Shit Up: This is like the ultimate guy dream; itís funny and crap is blowing up. Thereís a lot of stuff blowing up and a lot of explaining what they needed to get lots of stuff to blow up.

Designing the Thunder: This part is all about designing the sets and how they found the locations to shoot. The amount of work involved in scouting the locations in Hawaii and figuring out the heroin compound is particularly amazing and interesting.

The Cast of Tropic Thunder: The cast and others talk about who the characters are based on, what makes them funny and what went into the characters. This is definitely the best of the special features so far on this disc.

Rain of Madness: This is the fake documentary of the fake movie they were making on the set. This 30-minute mockumentary makes fun of itself and similar real documentaries all at once without any awkwardness; itís pretty hilarious.

Dispatches from the edge of madness: These are the weekly web clips they posted about the making of the mockumentary.

Deleted Scenes/Extended/Alternate ending: The deleted scenes are funny, but theyíre pretty similar to things already in the movie. The alternate ending is pretty hilarious, especially the Oscar acceptance speech. Iíd skip everything but the alternate ending on this one.

Make-up test with Tom Cruise: This may give me nightmares for weeks. Heís scary enough in real life; his character in this movie confirmed my worst Tom Cruise nightmares. If you need to see more Tom Cruise dancing around as a chubby, bald, studio head, this is the feature for you.

MTV Movie Awards- Tropic Thunder: This is the skit from the movie awards of Ben Stiller trying to make a viral video with Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.

Full Mags: These are full magazines of film to watch the actors improvise and see the choices of all of the alternate takes. This is a great opportunity to see the process of making the movie from the acting and directing standpoint.

Video Rehearsals: These are the videos they used to help figure out the way they were going to shoot the scene to make acting and directing easier. This took the place of tons and tons of storyboarding. This is a pretty cool look at a different way to put together a movie.
This is a genuinely funny look at Hollywood and the way films are made in todayís world. Plus, there are tons of explosions, and who doesn't love a movie with lots of laughs and lots of shit blowing up? There's a whole featurette about it!

EXTRA TIDBIT: The directorís cut includes an extra 13 minutes of footage that doesnít add anything big; there are several minor additions to the original cut.
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