Friday, August 15, 2008
Boycotts are retarded. Alright, here's the deal. In Tropic Thunder, two actors, Kirk Lazarus and Tugg Speedman (Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller respectivley), discuss the difference between crittically acclaimed, "half retarded" performances by Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks, and "whole retarded" performances from the critical bomb that was Tugg's performance in Simple Jack, a film which is kind of like a young version of John Malckovich's character in Of Mice and Men. They use the word "retard" a bit, and this has rubbed a few groups representing the mentally handicapped the wrong way, enough to cause them to call for a boycot. HOWEVER, this film is not making fun of them, they are making fun of the actors. This film has a ton of heart, and it's not mean spirited in any way. People can take it for what it is, but that's how I took it. Does the film live up to this diffense however??
Tropic Thunder has a really basic premise. A group of actors try to get together and make "the greatest war film ever made". Tugg Speedman (Stiller), is the action star, Kirk Lazarus (RDJ), is the critical and indie darling, Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) is the Eddie Murphy style comedic actor, and Alpa Chino and Kevin Sandusky (Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel), are the rapper and the new actor trying to make it big. They are led into 'Nam by rookie director, Damien Cockburn, and are adapting the book, Tropic Thunder. However, in an attempt to make it more authentic, the group gets lost in the jungle, with no phones or walkie talkies. Things just get worse as Speedman leaves the group, and gets caught by drug runners, and the rest of the group must break him out.
Robert Downey Jr. deserves some sort of an award. It is pure blasphemy that this man has been nominated for ONE Oscar, and way back in '93 for Chaplin. He proves, once again, that he is one of the best, all around, actors in the world today. He can play the brainiac playboy, and before that play the self loathing principal, and then play the paranoid news writer, and do all billiantly, and this is just another example. He steals every single scene he is in, which is a lot, and really shows up more comedic based actors Jack Black and Ben Stiller. That said, Black and Stiller are just parts in a truly great and perfectly put together cast. Even Thomas Maypather Cruise is hilarious, as the foul mouthed Studio Exec. The only lame duck performance is Bill Hader, but his role is so small, that it didn't slow the pace. Also, Ben Stiller has definitley come into his own as a director. Reality Bites is great, The Cable Guy is great, Zoolander is great, and now Tropic Thunder can be thrown into that group. This film lives and dies with his direction and the screenplay written by him and Iron Man 2 scribe, and David Lynch staple, Justin Theroux. This film is alive and kicking based on those two things. The action scenes, coming from a rookie action director, are really well done. Also, when it comes to comedies, the one thing that can make or destroy a film in this genre, is the laugh factor. If the film makes you laugh, then it works, and if it doesn't, then toss it. This is far and away the funniest film I've seen all year. All of these positives said, there are definitley a few problems with this film.
The biggest problem with this film is that when the jokes don't hit, as only a couple of them don't, they really bring me out of the film. The main scene that really angered me was the definite nuke-the-fridge moment, and that is a dance scene between Tom Cruise and the afformentioned Bill Hader. The two try to woo Stiller's agent, the actually great Matty McChonaghey, to just let Speedman die, as it would actually make them more money than the film would. They talk about getting him a plane, and then they bust out some Flo Rida, and begin to dance. It's a lame moment, and got about as many laughs as the trailer for Disaster Movie got. However, outside of that, and a couple of other lame joke moments, there really is no negatives to talk about. Has the film stayed with me, even as I write this, no, but I don't think this film trys to do that, and that's the great thing. There is no bigger message, outside of the bashing of Hollywood and what some actors do to get awards, and it totally works. I can see as many movies with a huge, overriding political message, and there's a place for those, and those, to me, are better films, but if you want some pure comedic fun, than skip the other comedies out there, Pineapple Express and Step Brothers, and go check out Tropic Thunder.
Tropic Thunder - 8/10
That's all I've got for now...come back later for some more news, notes and hopefully a brief review of Mirrors and/or Vicky Christina Barcelona....
Go see something good!
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