REVIEW: “Tropic Thunder”

Posted: August 14, 2008 by Zee in Review
Tags: ,

(Sorry for the lack of updates. Vicki is on foreign shores– go go no-idea-what-I’m-doing-after-graduation! – and I’m…well, cheap, as has been explained. – S)

I figure that the reasoning behind the recent Tropic Thunder essentially boils down to the classic “Let’s put on a show!” mentality of 1930s cinema. Director Ben Stiller seems to have culled nearly everyone– and I mean everyone– he has ever met into appearing in this movie. I am not a Ben Stiller fan. Aside from Zoolander, I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever seen him in anything, period. I have a vague recolection that I saw There’s Something About Mary and The Royal Tennenbaums, but honestly, I can’t be certain. That, and the fact that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything with Jack Black in it either, led me to believe I wouldn’t really enjoy this movie. Had it not been for the promise of Robert Downey Jr.,  I’m not sure I would have seen it at all…

Ladies and gents, I was so, so, VERY wrong about that opinion.Ah, crap

Oh, wait, crap.

Fuck! Ok, closer anyway…


Review in a nutshell? Go watch this movie. Seriously. Spend your 7.00 (Georgia) or 11.00 (NYC, can you believe it?!) matinée dollars and watch this movie.

People that know me personally know that I’m essentially a Hollywood kid– my dad worked in the movies (won an Oscar, actually) and I’ve been to my fair share of premiers, and really, this movie comes from a cynical viewpoint of a “Hollywood kid”…thus making it awesome. Apparently Ben Stiller originally concieved the basic Tropic Thunder plot when he was shooting Empire of the Sun– yeah, that Empire of the Sun with a very young Christian Bale– and although I take that with a grain of salt, Tropic Thunder is a truly excellent skewer of Hollywood and the utter pretentiousness that comes with it.

Essentially, the best part of this movie comes from a perspective– the Hollywood Kid perspective– that only some part of the population really gets, and that’s what makes it great. For Your Consideration, the Christopher Guest vehicle (why do they call it ‘vehicles’ anyway?), came close but at the same time was from the perspective of someone who had come to the ‘party’ late into the game.

My favorite joke? The pyrotechnics nut (and they are ALL nuts, in my experience) Cody (played by Danny McBride) seriously intones that he has an injury in the line of duty, and holds up his blown-off pinkie finger for proof. I laughed a lot at this, as my dad told me an on-set joke several years ago:

Q: How can you tell a visual effects guy from a special effects guy?

A: The number of fingers they have.

Hollywood in-jokes aside, this is truly a movie worth checking out. Actors that I never gave a second thought to turn out very, very good performances– Matthew McConaughey– who I last saw in Contact, for Christ’s sake– is hilarious, and Tom Cruise, who is the butt of everyones (including my own) jokes these days is…uh, excellent? Sigh. You know, it’s really hard to hate someone when they turn out a good show….

That little girl still isn’t his kid.

The very weirdest thing about this movie? (Aside from my mom saying “Poor Willem Dafoe”– and if anyone here has ever seen Platoon, or at least the poster art, you’ll get her sympathy) is just how much you’d never think this was directed– fuck, much less starred– Ben Stiller. Physically, he doesn’t resemble any character he’s ever done before. Dude is ripped. Yes, he still looks like a chimp, but a ripped chimp. The film was partially written by Ethan Cohen, but the main credits still go to Stiller, and I am frankly amazed by how, well, self-aware he and all the actors seem to be about their typical roles. Jack Black is a tortured Jack Black/Eddie Murphy/Mike Myers hybrid, Ben Stiller is an actor stuck in one genre trying desperately to break out of said genre and be taken seriously, and Robert Downey Jr. is a 5-times-Oscar’ed “method actor” to the highest degree with a ‘bad boy past’…

Arg! Stop!

So again, nutshell verdict…

FUCK!…is that you should see this movie because of the…


…uh, of the craft, and…uh…

Oh, fuck it. Vicki’s just gonna have to do all the Robert Downey Jr. stuff from now on.

And by “stuff” I mean Robert Downey Jr. movie reviews.

I can handle doing all the Robert Downey Jr. “stuff” myself, thankyouverymuch.


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