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Exceptional London cop Nicholas Angel is involuntarily transferred to a quaint English village and paired with a witless new partner. While on the beat, Nicholas suspects a sinister conspiracy is afoot with the residents.
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A film crew is in Southeast Asia filming a Vietnam-war memoir. It's early in the shooting, but they're already behind schedule and over budget. On the day an accident befalls the novice director, the cast and crew are attacked by a gang of poppy-growing local drug dealers, except the cast and crew don't realize these aren't actors who are stalking them. The thugs kidnap Tugg Speedman, an actor whose star seems on the decline, and it's up to the rest of the ragtag team to band together long enough to attempt his rescue. But will Tugg want to leave? Written by
Ben Stiller and company hit the comedic mark with "TROPIC THUNDER."
Advanced screening: Toronto (July 31, 2008) Tropic Thunder is a film I've anticipated (from it's trailers/ Downey Jr's "Blackface" controversy) for quite awhile, but knowing Ben Stiller's hit (Reality Bites) or miss (Zoolander) directing filmography, I kept my expectations relatively lukewarm. Luckily that wasn't necessary because it's Stiller's best effort as a director to date as well as one of the best comedies of the year.
Starting with the best fake-trailers this side of Grindhouse, TROPIC THUNDER develops into the most uniquely wacky blend of satire/action/ and gross-out I've ever seen. At first it appears to be a straight-up spoof on popular war films, then it becomes a film within a film, then an attack on Hollywood and the film industry in general. Also present are some rather shocking (and hilarious) sight gags (exploding film-crew members, the brutal slaughter of an endangered species) that managed to catch everyone off guard (yet not offend them).
The main reason TROPIC THUNDER works so well though is it's stellar ensemble cast. You have the likes of Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Steve Coogan, and Nick Nolte all turning in terrific comedic performances that they obviously had fun with. Tom Cruise gives the extended cameo of the year as a studio executive, while Tobey Maguire and a slew of other actors make notable appearances. Ultimately it is Downey Jr. who steals almost every scene as the platoon's very white, African-American squad leader.
Rude, witty, and ballsy, TROPIC THUNDER is a great time at the movies. It's hard finding worth-while large budget comedies these days, but DIRECTOR Ben Stiller, supported by a strong cast and a great premise, has proved himself to be the right man for the task. 8/10
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