Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tropic Thunder

"I don't read the script, the script reads me"

Written By: Ben Stiller, Etan Cohen, Justin Theroux

Directed By: Ben Stiller

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Matthew McConaghey, Tom Cruise

My rating 8/10

As far as stupid blockbuster comedies go, the only thing this film is missing is Will Ferrell. As close to perfect as big dumb summer movies get, Tropic Thunder is refreshingly disrespectful, delightfully satirical and a wonderful load of fun! With it's stupidly talented cast, I have to admit, my expectations for this film were sky high from about 6 months ago when I first saw the trailer. I wasn't disappointed, except perhaps with Tom Cruise's much-lauded role a s foul-mouthed movie producer Les Grossman.

Tropic Thunder is not only a brilliantly written, brilliantly acted film. It is also a fun action flick with plenty of explosions and gore. The film follows a bunch of vacuous Hollywood stereotypes (and one unpretentious up-and-comer, nicely played by Jay Baruchel) as they trek through a real-life drug war, unaware that the gunfire and explosions are anything more than guerilla filmmaking. Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is trying to come to terms with a flailing career, Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.) is a blonde Australian Oscar-winner taking "the method" too far, playing a black sargeant and in the process driving the actually black rapper-turned-actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) crazy with his refusal to come out of character. Jack Black plays Jeff Portnoy whose fart-filled movies are losing him the respect of his peers. He has also just lost his heroin stash to a rogue bat and is going through serious withdrawal when they come across the heroin processing plant. All of these characters, and all of the supporting characters are wonderfully simple and therfore easy to just sit back and enjoy.

Similarly to Stiller's earlier genius comedy, Zoolander, this movie hits all the scathing marks it aims for. Matthew McConaghey is brilliant as Cruise's agent who is desperately trying negotiate Tugg's TIVO, as stipulated in his contract, meanwhile being blissfully unaware of how far beyond contract things have actually gotten. His encounters with corporate slimeball Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) are funny and at times Cruise's performance is wonderful, let's not forget, he's still one of the greatest actors of our generation no matter how nuts and possibly evil he is. However, the performance takes a downturn into desperation as he moves into Goldmember territory with hip hop dance routines. It's a extremely cringe-worthy and it's a bit too clear how much Cruise is banking on this cameo to ensure his return to "hip with the kids" status. Hmmmm...didn't do it for me.

Anyway, as the story progresses, knocking down retards, blacks and fat folks as it goes, it becomes an action-packed extravaganza, but never forgets it's comedic responsibilities. I loved it! I loved it's irreverence for everything, it's sharply observed characters and it's brilliant, brilliant performances. Forget the Joker, my vote's for Kirk Lazarus "the dude playing a dude disguised as another dude".

Go see this movie, it's just simply a good movie. You'll enjoy it. And don't be a sap and get offended. It plays the South Park card and offends so many types of people that it therefore offends no-one.

- Charlene Lydon 14/08/08

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