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Tropic Thunder (2008)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks Unrated)
Director:
Ben Stiller Ben Stiller
Starring:
Jeff Kahn Jeff Kahn
Robert Downey Jr. Robert Downey Jr.
Anthony Ruivivar Anthony Ruivivar
Jack Black Jack Black
Jay Baruchel Jay Baruchel

7.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Action Comedy, Comedy, Showbiz Comedy
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: August 19, 2008
Before "Tropic Thunder", the last two films I had viewed in a theatrical setting had both been comedies. "Step Brothers" was humorous enough, but nothing phenomenal, save for one sequence involving a lumberjack and a minotaur. "Pineapple Express" was a comedic masterpiece and one of the finest comedies I had ever seen. So, "Tropic Thunder" had some big shoes to fill. Never in a million years would I have expected it to surpass "Pineapple Express", but believe me when I tell you - it most certainly did. "Tropic Thunder" is the insanely offensive, horribly trashy and most incredibly ballsy film I have seen in years, maybe ever. It is an equal opportunity offender and is does not let up for a moment. Sitting through "Tropic Thunder" was like sitting through an old Don Rickles routine, but modernized for contemporary audiences. You'll never hear more profanity or see more blood and gore than you see in "Tropic Thunder", an old school comedy. Congratulations to co-writer and director Ben Stiller for redeeming himself after a string of less than satisfying films that included "The Heartbreak Kid", "Night at the Museum" and "Starsky & Hutch". Stiller has been making bombs for a while, but "Tropic Thunder" does nothing but drop them. It's the best comedy of the year and one of the funniest films I have had the pleasure of seeing...ever.

The premise is simple - three of the largest movie stars in the world have come together to make a jungle epic known as "Tropic Thunder". Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) was a former action megastar whose light has been dimming of late. Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) is the most beloved comedian in the world, who just happens to also have a heroin addiction. And, Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.) has won five Academy Awards and has had a skin augmentation procedure done so he can portray the black captain in the film. Along for the ride are Jay Baruchel as newcomer Kevin Sandusky and Brandon T. Jackson as rap star Alpa Chino. Nick Nolte co-stars as Four Leaf Tayback, who wrote the screenplay; Danny R. McBride as Cody, the explosions expert; Steve Coogan as first time director Damien Cockburn; Matthew McConaughey as Rick Peck, Stiller's agent who is obsessed with TiVo; and Tom Cruise as mogul Les Grossman, who spits out profane words like a volcano spits out lava. What happens is that the director and the screenwriter decide to take the stars of the film and toss them into the jungle, forcing them to encounter real life war scenarios. The problem is that a group of drug dealers mistake them for invading Americans and all hell breaks loose. "Tropic Thunder" is a story of courage...and brotherhood...and lots and lots of blood and guts and fart jokes and racist jokes and mentally challenged barbs.

Everything about this picture is hysterical. The film opens with three faux trailers, each featuring one of the stars of the film. The highlight of these is "Satan's Alley", where Downey, Jr., along with Tobey Maguire star as two homosexual monks seeking redemption. The best faux trailer comes in the form of "Simple Jack", a vehicle starring Ben Stiller's character as a mentally retarded farm boy who can understand what the animals are saying. But, apart from the trailers, "Tropic Thunder" relies on its stars to carry the script and they all do an admirable job. Robert Downey, Jr. steals the show and deserves Academy Award consideration for his role as Kirk Lazarus. Downey, Jr. does such a grand job of overacting his part that it could never be taken as offensive. He uses quotes from "Sanford & Son" and other African-American themed entertainment to comprise most of what he considers 'black' and he has a nice counter-balance in Brandon T. Jackson as Alpa Chino. The two have some very entertaining scenes together. Ben Stiller is the best he's been since his role in "Zoolander" as Tugg Speedman, especially when he's playing "Simple Jack". Jack Black has some very meaty lines as Jeff Portnoy, whose heroin addiction offers some of the biggest laughs in the entire film. Nick Nolte reigns supreme in all his gruff glory as Tayback, Danny R. McBride continues to prove his worth as a supporting actor, Steve Coogan's departure in the film is one of the best in recent memory, and Matthew McConaughey is nothing short of comic gold.

And now to Tom Cruise. I was surprised at how many people in the audience had no idea it was Tom Cruise until the closing credits. I could tell from the opening line. That said, I suppose he took the film with the hopes of changing his currently 'scattered' imagine. Let me just say that it seems to have worked. Cruise sheds all the pretentiousness and the vanity and turns in one of the funniest supporting performances of recent memory in a role that is unlike anything he has ever done and likely unlike anything he'll ever do again. Cruise just goes for it and doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks, and I applaud him for that. He is a highlight of a fantastic film. And his cameo, along with others, also add one more layer to a film that just has this aura of a 1980's big budget comedy like "Stripes" and "Ghost Busters" and "Spies Like Us", back when comedies made more money than any other genre and a studio could spend big bucks on one because it knew it was going to be making every penny of it back. "Tropic Thunder" is just like one of those films and it was nice to see a big budget comedy actually deliver the goods, and in a big, big way.

Kudos to everyone involved with this impressive picture. Ben Stiller is back, and I hope he can keep up the good work and stop with all the dreck. Jack Black has a nice return to form after a few near misses and some pretty disastrous projects. Robert Downey, Jr. cements 2008 as 'The Year of RDJ' and confirms that he is back and better than ever. And everyone else in the cast add nice flavor to such a well rounded concept. There have been so many protests and concerns over this film because of the groups that it makes fun of, but I have no problem with parody when a films heart is in the right place. "Tropic Thunder" is not making fun of retarded people. It's making fun of actors who play retarded characters. "Tropic Thunder" does not take its dealings with race too far. It handles it with kid gloves and thankfully has a multi-talented Robert Downey, Jr. in the role to make it work even more. I encourage everyone to see "Tropic Thunder", but be warned it is definitely for adult audiences and should not be seen by children. It has graphic language and violence. I am so thrilled that 2008 has become such a token year for strong comedy. There has been a drought.

10/10.
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Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 08/20/2008, 12:42 AM
Now this was a funny movie. The fake trailers were hilarious. My only problem is that it kinda slows down in the middle and not nearly as funny as it was at the start. But then it picks up again for a great ending. Robert Downey Jr. definitely stole the show, and Tom Cruise was actually pretty funny.

9/10
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 08/23/2008, 01:19 AM
This movie... was amazing...

9.4/10
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 08/23/2008, 01:47 AM
"Th-th-this head movie ma-ma-makes my face r-rain".
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 08/24/2008, 06:20 AM
"Yeah. But seriously, a nutless monkey could do your job."
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 09/08/2008, 09:46 PM
Not a bad movie. Not as funny as everyone made it out to be, but I still enjoyed myself. Even though he was the selling point of the film, Ben Stiller wasn't funny at all. RDJ and Jack Black definitely stole this show.

9/10
BuryMeAlive #6: BuryMeAlive - added 09/24/2008, 09:24 PM
I will just go ahead and break the chain of 9/10 ratings... Sure the movie was funny and got me a few laughs, but I found the actual plot rather boring and the characters annoying. 6/10
Lucid Dreams #7: Lucid Dreams - added 04/25/2010, 03:31 AM
Let me continue that fucking chain, bitch. 9/10

"C'mon man I'll stroke the shaft, cradle the balls, even swallow the gravy"
Greg Follender #8: Greg Follender - added 04/25/2010, 11:38 PM
Mmmm... gravy;-)

Overrated.
A 7/10 for me for a strong start that petered out long before the credits.
Entertaining enough though...
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