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Review: Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder
08.13.2008
9 10

PLOT: A group of actors - including fading action star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), comedian Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) - shooting a big budget war epic on location in the jungles of Vietnam, run afoul of heroin smugglers.

REVIEW: Believe the hype folks: TROPIC THUNDER is one painfully funny flick. I mean that literally as I laughed so hard throughout the film that I was literally in pain by the time the end credits rolled. I honestly haven't laughed this hard at a film since 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. I was in hysterics. People were practically rolling in the aisles! It was so funny that not only did I piss my pants in laughter, but I also wet the pants of the person sitting next to me. Suffice to say, TROPIC THUNDER is funny.

Be warned though, this is not heart-warming comedy. This is black comedy at its darkest. The film is a vicious, cutting satire of Hollywood. I honestly did not think Stiller had it in him. I'm a fairly casual Stiller fan. I loved REALITY BITES & ZOOLANDER, and I liked the first MEET THE PARENTS film, but I found the sequel and most of his recent work absolutely painful to sit through. I always thought Stiller was a bit of a talented hack, but with this film he really proves himself as one of the sharpest comedic minds of his generation.


Of course, Stiller not only co-wrote and directed the film, but stars in it as well. He plays Tugg Speedman, a not so bright action star whose career is in ruins after starring in the film SIMPLE JACK, where he plays a mentally retarded stable boy. Oh no! I used the word retarded! Supposedly various organizations are protesting the fact that the film makes fun of the mentally handicapped but it's obvious that none of these protesters have actually seen the film. The whole point of the SIMPLE JACK plot device is that it's SUPPOSED to be offensive (and it also happens to be insanely funny!). I'm not one for making fun of somebody due to a handicap and the film does not make fun of mentally handicapped people. It makes fun of the egotistical, lunk-headed actor that perpetuates the stereotype.

Also sure to be controversial is Downey Jr., as Kirk Lazarus- who's so deep into method acting that he has his skin pigmentation changed so that he can play an African-American character. Downey Jr., is incredibly funny in the role, and shows a real flair for broad comedy. I especially liked his interactions with Brandon T. Jackson, who plays rapper Alpha Chino (LOL) and is totally offended by the fact that he has to act alongside a white guy pretending to be black. Their scenes together are priceless especially the exchange they have regarding the N-word.

Jack Black, incorporating quite a bit of self parody into his role, plays a heroin addicted comedy star. Late in the film, he tries to kick heroin, and he has the other actors tie him to a tree so he can detox. This scene is the funniest thing Black has ever done and it's nice seeing him cut loose in an R-rated comedy.

It should also be noted that the film has an absolutely incredible supporting cast, including Jay Barushel, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, and a perfectly cast Nick Nolte as the batshit crazy Vietnam vet historical consultant. Of course we also have Tom Cruise as the ridiculously profane studio boss financing the film within the film. I know, I know, Cruise's appearance is supposed to be a surprise, but by now everyone knows he's in it. I won't spoil what he looks like- but I assure you, it's Tom Cruise like you've never seen (or heard) him before. I think TROPIC THUNDER is the best thing Cruise has been involved with in a while but only time will tell if the role is able to resuscitate his career.


Besides the acting it should be noted that TROPIC THUNDER is incredibly lavish for a comedy. The film supposedly cost north of $100 million and it shows. It's nice to see a big budget R-Rated comedy produced on such a grand scale. The pyrotechnics in the film are among the most impressive I've seen so far this summer. I also couldn't believe how gory the film is, especially the scene involving Stiller licking the blood off a disembodied head (yes you read that right - this film ain't R-rated for nothing).

Overall, TROPIC THUNDER is one hell of a way to close out the summer, and I suspect it's going to be a mega-smash for Stiller & co. If you check the film out (as you should), try to show up early as there's a bunch of fake trailers before the film that are as funny as anything in the actual movie.

GRADE: 9/10

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Source: JoBlo.com

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