Monday, July 13, 2009

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder is a 2008 comedy film directed and starring Ben Stiller.

The film is about a crew filming a Vietnam-war movie. The film has just started shooting – but has taken a huge hit already and is bleeding money. An idea is concocted to bring the crew together and really make them “feel” like they’re in the film. Little do they know they have stumbled into a real gang of local drug lords. Hilarity ensues.

Well, I didn’t see this film when it first came out – I haven’t seen that many films since my brother moved away and even before that I used to see films pretty regularly with my buddy Matt back in 2006 and 2007. I believe I went to the movies about once a month – now I go about 4 times a year. I’ve only seen one film in the theaters by myself – Superman Returns – and I refuse to do that again for quite some time.

I hadn’t personally heard any of my friends and colleagues talk about this film but I had heard through the grapevine online that the movie was funny. I also heard that it was horrible, so I didn’t actually get around to seeing it until now. I ended up picking up the “director’s cut” which happens to be 13 minutes longer. I don’t know how much better the theatrical version is because I’ve seen the vast majority of people say that the extended version is nowhere near as good (as I’ve also heard about The 40 Year Old Virgin).

I’ve never really been a huge fan of Ben Stiller. I see some comedy genius there from time to time, but for the most part he plays basically two characters – the nervous, high-strung one from “Meet the Parents” and the idiot one from “Zoolander” or “Dodgeball.” The rest I’ve seen are variations on those basic archetypes. I’m also not a huge fan of Jack Black, for reasons too long to list at the moment – I just find him annoying. With that said, I liked both of their performances in this film. Stiller was still pretty brain-dead, but wasn’t as aware of his stupidity in this film. I still don’t like Matthew McConaughey.

Robert Downey is in top form in this film, and Nick Nolte plays a wonderful supporting part in this film. Tom Cruise’s role was a shocker, and played the role perfectly.

The film starts off with fake commercials and trailers, which are wonderful – not that movies should start doing such things more frequently – but I loved their inclusion here.

The movie is more than a film within a film, and more than a parody of modern action and war films, but it’s an attack directly on Hollywood itself. The ridiculousness of actors, the money behind films, and the politics of the industry (no, not ‘Washingtion politics’ but politics of getting a film made).

I’d suggest this film for a pretty decent number of meaningful laughs.

*** 1/2 out of *****

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