Disable Flash   

Tropic Thunder (2008)

R 107 minutes

Directed by Ben Stiller
Written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux

 · Ben Stiller
 · Robert Downey Jr
 · Jack Black

Review by Philter

Tropic Thunder is one of those brilliant pieces of work that you are unable to pinpoint exactly what it is. Is it a parody film? There are obvious nods to famous war movies from beginning to end. The originality in the performances, writing, and story advance it light years beyond the parody film genre. Is it a war film? There are certainly intense scenes, and really well done action, the plot revolves around our characters making a war film. Though, we see the humor to everything, perhaps very similar to what a real action packed big budget movie set would resemble. It wouldn't be a stretch to call this a documentary about the making of a movie. The reason this movie is amazing is because it fits in so many genres and executes each part perfectly. What is truly impressive is this is Ben Stiller's directorial follow up to Zoolander and The Cable Guy. Needless to say, he has really out done himself.




For all intents and purposes this is sort of a mockumentary. The best part of the movie is seeing these characters interact with one another. While I have never starred in a huge summer movie, the dynamic between the actors seems realistic. Blockbuster mega action star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) does everything he can to upstage Academy Award friendly Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), while hip hop star Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) is left wondering where Kirk dreamt up his stereotypical persona. The first half in the jungle plays on the theme of ego and insecurity with newcomer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) is the most level headed normal guy of the group. Audiences immortalize celebrities when really if you leave four actors and one everyday Joe in a room (or a jungle) you find out the everyday Joe is more capable to do anything.
It is a bit of a stretch to imagine that Director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), War veteran and story advisor Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), and Special effects supervisor Cody (Danny McBride) can disappear with the movies five ensemble actors, a helicopter, and rig a strange jungle with c-4 and cameras, it doesn't prove to be that huge of a plot hole. The idea of putting actors in a real jungle, unknowingly with real drug traffickers all to get a sincere performance is a great idea. Someone could be held captive and not even realize it.




There are a lot of actors in this movie, and everyone of them is at the top of their game. It's interesting because I think it's possible the elements that cause friction with our characters, could possibly be applied to the actors making the movie. Actors from different movie backgrounds not wanting to be out done by the other one. Whether it was friendly, positive, friction or negative, egotistical, insecure friction is neither here nor there because the end result was a treat. It is a shame Robert Downey Jr had to compete against Heath Ledger this year for supporting actor Oscars. If it were never revealed that Kirk Lazarus was originally a white Australian, I don't think anyone would have recognized him. Speaking of actors that could go unrecognized is Tom Cruise. He resembles the Tom Cruise of the good old days, sacrificing his nice guy swagger and pretty boy looks for the role of Les Grossman. Jack Black should not go with out mention either. He sells the role of drug addicted comedy actor so well it almost wouldn't surprise me to hear he is actually a druggie. The only thing to explain a movie landing talent like Downey, Black, McConaughey, Cruise, Nolte, McBride, Jackson, Hader, and Baruchel is the creative writing, and an eager talented director.

Writers Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, and Ethan Cohen blurred the lines between what audiences imagine to be the actor's behavior when the camera isn't rolling and what it's really like when they wrote this movie. As I mentioned earlier the conflict between the characters is likely an exaggerated look of how the actors really worked. Stiller as a director and writer was able to push it to believable extremes for the sake of comedy and making the audience laugh. It goes back the idea that all fiction stems from some reality holds true in this case. As an actor it would be loads of fun to be in a movie about making a movie and act as ridiculous as possible, fulfilling media hype, and rumors that circle the entertainment business and throw in some personal experiences. That can get out of hand really quickly and I commend Ben Stiller for knowing where to draw the lines, keeping the story his first priority.



It doesn't matter what genre Tropic Thunder fits into. It falls under the category of you can never have too much of a good thing. Like all great movies you can watch it multiple times and it wont get old. Every time you watch it you will hear a new line that you didn't hear before because you laughed over it, or you'll catch a reference to a movie that you didn't before. This movie easily earns best comedy of 2008, and it earns a spot on my best movies of 2008.


878 Words Published: 24 June 2009

Reviews and articles Copyright 2002-2006 their respective authors. No content, except text explicitly
provided in the web feeds, may be reproduced without prior written permission from the author(s).
SMART-POPCORN.com, images, and characters Copyright 2002-2006 Thom Stricklin.
All rights reserved.