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Review: Tropic Thunder (2008) R 107min

August 18th, 2008 by Maxim · 3 Comments · 8,803 Views


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Tropic Thunder (2008) posterThis latest summer comedy is directed by Ben Stiller – his first movie since Zoolander (2001), and is written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen.

The plot: A big-budget war movie with star-actors is being cancelled by the studio. Desperate to save the movie and turn it into a biggest baddest war movie ever made, director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) takes suggestion of a burnout screen writer Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte) to add more realism to the movie by sending his crew into Vietnam and setting up hidden cameras in the jungle. The all-star cast gets to work, but they are so self-involved they don’t recognize the danger when local poppy growers mistake them for narcs and capture them.

The good: Fresh from the Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. definitely stole the show. His character, an action movie star and 5-time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus is hilarious. Lazarus is all about doing an excellent job. He even gets a skin pigmentation altering procedure to look like an Australian Aborigine and he stays in character through the movie and even off-camera to the point that his co-stars become annoyed with it. Who are his co-stars? The opening sequence of the movie introduces and opens the characters immediately by showing trailers of the movies they starred in. There’s Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), famous for his fart jokes movie franchise where he plays all characters – a possible reference to Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor: The Klumps or Norbit. Jeff Portnoy is in the middle of withdrawal from heroine addiction and in the movie he asks his friends to tie him to the tree and then begs them to untie him. The other famous star is Alpa Chino (say it!) played by Brandon T. Jackson. He banks on his popularity by selling his own energy drink called “Booty Sweat”. The third hero is Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) – an egoistic and narcissistic actor of the mindless Scorcher action franchise who was famous for playing a retarded farmer who thought his animals understand when he talks to them. His act is painfully similar to Forest Gump. When the crew is dropped off in the jungle and the director disappears after Cody-the pyrotechnician (Danny Mc. Bride of Pineapple Express) makes a mistake, it’s Tugg Speedman who takes production of the movie into his hands. The disappearance of the director was one of the funniest parts of the movie: the audience could see it coming, but the execution was so perfectly timed it’s so memorable!

In addition, Tom Cruise is hysterically funny as Les Grossman, a cynical movie studio executive/producer who doesn’t care if actors live or die – it’s all about profit for him. He can find a way to make money out of any situation.

Nick Nolte gets his character just right. He brings the stereotype of a burnout Vietnam war junkie to another level. Well,, that’s the spirit of this whole movie – how far can a stereotype be taken that it’s funny and ridiculous.

This movie is funny thanks to hilarious action and dialogs. This summer has offered a great variety of new entertaining movies being released one after another, and release of Tropic Thunder right after “Pineapple Express” is the proof. This is not a masterpiece, but it will make you laugh out-loud if you can bare with the gory jokes (some ladies could not), and if you didn’t see it in the theater, get it on video.

The bad: Language, gore and gross-out jokes are typical Ben Stiller’s tools. Some may find this movie offensive to so many different groups, including mentally challenged and some ethnic minorities, but it’s still a funny comedy – it’s not any worse a humor then one delivered by stand up comedians at Comedy Central. Matthew McConaughey has too small a role as Tugg’s agent.

The summary: silly and pretty gross at times, but entertaining. It will make you laugh so hard you’ll fall off your chair – if you are into this kind of jokes.

The cast: Kirk Lazarus - Robert Downey Jr. | Jeff Portnoy - Jack Black | Kevin Sandusky - Jay Baruchel | Alpa Chino – Brandon T. Jackson | Tugg Speedman – Ben Stiller | Damien Cockburn – Steve Coogan | Cody – Danny R. McBride | Four Leaf Tayback - Nick Nolte | Rick Peck - Matthew McConaughey | Tran – Brandon Soo Hoo | Les Grossman – Tom Cruise

The crew: Director – Ben Stiller | Story – Ben Stiller & Justin Theroux | Screenplay – Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen | Producers – Ben Stiller, Eric McLeod, Matt Eppedio, Stuart Cornfeld, Patrick Esposito | Original Music – Theodore Shapiro | Photography – John Toll | DreamWorks SKG

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Rated 3/5 on Aug 18 2008
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Tags: "Guy" Films · Action · Adventure · Comedy · Movies · USA · War

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MovieFan // Aug 19, 2008 at 12:20 pm

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    I’m not the world’s biggest Ben Stiller fan, but I like the sound if this plot, and might just have to this movie a try.

  • 2 movie junkie // Aug 26, 2008 at 12:42 pm

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    Robert Downey Jr. cracks me up… he’s got a knack for not taking himself too seriously

  • 3 Hot New DVD and Blu-Ray Releases This Week (Nov 18, 2008) | Maxim’s Movie Reviews and Opinions Blog // Nov 18, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    [...] (2008) R Drawing inspiration from films like Apocalypse Now and Platoon, this war movie send-up from director and star Ben Stiller follows a group of dimwitted actors forced to become real-life soldiers when they’re abandoned in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Stiller leads an all-star cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Nick Nolte, with Tom Cruise in an unforgettable cameo as a rude, crude movie mogul. DVD | Blu-Ray | [Maxim's Review] [...]

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