Saturday, May 15, 2010

Film Critique- "Tropic Thunder"

Ripped from the archives at Operation Orca circa August, 2008...

Tropic Thunder (2008)
starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride
written by: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Ethan Cohen
directed by: Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller hits the cinematic trifecta as co-writer, co-producer, director and star of Tropic Thunder; a film that is laugh out loud funny, creative, beautifully shot and features perhaps the most impressive supporting cast in recent memory. It's not as star-laden as say, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (not even close), but the performances are memorable. Combine that with a plethora of hilarious one-liners, and Tropic Thunder delivers an instant classic. That's huge praise considering I'm not as easy to please at the movie-going experience as most people.

Ben Stiller may be a great writer, director and actor, but he SUCKS as a caterer.

The film opens with three mock trailers introducing our main players (Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr.). They are, respectively, the hottest action star, comedy star and Oscar-winner in Hollywood, and they're teaming up to shoot Tropic Thunder, the most realistic, big budgeted, blow em up war flick, ever. On location in Viet Nam, the production is a mess as the crew face problem after problem, and the chemistry between these superb thespians, in a manner of speaking, just ain't there.

A Dirty Dozen, minus six, plus two bars of soap, divided by a six-pack of Booty Sweat equals "Tropic Thunder."

The director (Steve Coogan) is taking the brunt of the blame from the executive producer (Tom Cruise. Yes, the Tom Cruise. Who is, for the first time in my opinion, absolutely brilliant!) So the director, under advice from the author of the book that inspired this film (Nick Nolte!) decides that dropping his cast into authentic harm's way will produce the chemistry he needs. Stupid? Yes. Would that really happen? No f*cking way. But luckily for us, it happens here, for what follows is a string of hilarious mayhem and calamity that never grows tiresome.

I will NOT sing "Mammy." Don't ask me again.

The mix of Stiller, Black and Downey, Jr. is effectively divided up, as each are able to showcase their particular talents evenly and effectively. Jack Black is the standard Jack Black, raised to the power of ten, rather than diluted as he was in Nacho Libre. Robert Downey, Jr. could not have hoped for a better follow-up to Iron Man, as he has done the equivalent of hitting two grand slam home runs in a row. Of course, there's Stiller who proves he can be brilliant both behind and in front of the camera, and Thunder is a refreshing break from his recent string of turds (ie: The Heartbreak Kid, Night at the Museum).

Happy Tet! Today is Tet, right?

The trio is directly supported by Jay Baruchel and Brandon T. Jackson (as the other actors in this movie within a movie), Danny McBride (as the special fx guy) and Steve Coogan as the film's director. Throw in the support of Cruise, Nolte and Matthew McConaughy, and pepper in cameos from Tyra Banks, Jon Voight, Tobey Mcguire and others of their ilk, and you've got yourself one pretty enjoyable film.

Don't wait to rent this. Tropic Thunder should be experienced on the big screen. We, as audience members, owe the price of admission to a film that truly entertains at this level.

Consider the suggestion that Tobey McGuire and Robert Downey, Jr. play a pair of homosexual monks that use the rosary as anal beads in a film entitled Satan's Alley.

'Nuff said.

Guardian of the Universe Gamera says, "I auditioned for the role Tom Cruise plays, but they told me I didn't look 'Jewish enough.' Well neither did Tom Cruise before all that makeup!"