Tropic Thunder (2008)
Reviewed on 2008 September 2
This is what Stupid Parody Movie MCDLXXIV could have been if the writers had actually tried. This is a funny, self-referential black comedy that burns Hollywood, celebrity, agents, war movies, rap music… and though it slows down in the middle, it was good.
After 3 faux-mmercials that made me laugh harder than the rest of the movie, we get to the story. Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is the star of such weak action films as the Scorcher series and wannabe-Oscar® fare like Simple Jack. His career is tanking, so he jumps at the chance to be in a slam-dunk movie about Vietnam. He’s thrilled to be cast alongside legendary actor’s actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) and comic “genius” Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black). They’re going to create the ultimate war movie, based on the novel Tropic Thunder by vet Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte). They’ve even added rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) for extra star power and a soldier, Kevin Sanduskey (Jay Baruchel) for more gritty realism. This should be a no-brainer!
Yet things aren’t going well. It’s hard to herd the spoiled actors, and head studio ogre Les Grossman (Tom Cruise, who looked like he shaved his crown and glued the leftover fuzz to his body for this) is getting impatient. Frustrated director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) is beside himself trying to get a blockbuster out of this, until Tayback comes up with the ultimate method acting solution: drop the men off in country and film that.
Got all that? This was convoluted, to say the least. Robert Downey Jr. playing a blue-eyed Aussie playing a man of color? Yeah, Hollywood would be dumb enough to pull a stunt like that. It does drag a little and seem to almost change directions but it redeems itself at the end, and how can you not enjoy watching a pompous git like Tom Cruise make fun of himself? Matthew McConaughey is also funny as Speedman’s agent Rick Peck.
Two chocolate morsels and a Mai Tai. I want the DVD so I can hear the commentary and behind-the-scenes stuff.