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Tropic Thunder (2008)

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Through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying.

Director:

Ben Stiller

Writers:

Justin Theroux (screenplay), Ben Stiller (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
1,150 ( 174)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 43 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeff Kahn ... Snooty Waiter - Fatties Trailer
Robert Downey Jr. ... Kirk Lazarus - Hot LZ
Anthony Ruivivar ... Platoon Sergeant Shot in Head - Hot LZ
Jack Black ... Jeff Portnoy - Hot LZ
Jay Baruchel ... Kevin Sandusky - Hot LZ
Brandon T. Jackson ... Alpa Chino - Hot LZ
Ben Stiller ... Tugg Speedman - Hot LZ
Eric Winzenried ... Chopper Pilot - Hot LZ
Steve Coogan ... Damien Cockburn - Vietnam Crew
Valerie Azlynn ... Damien's Assistant - Vietnam Crew
Matt Levin ... Cameraperson - Vietnam Crew
David Pressman ... First Assistant Director - Vietnam Crew
Amy Stiller ... Script Supervisor - Vietnam Crew
Danny McBride ... Cody - Vietnam Crew
Dempsey Silva Dempsey Silva ... Special Effects Assistant - Vietnam Crew
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Storyline

Action movie star Tugg Speedman is on the downslide of his professional career. He wants to be considered a serious actor, but his latest serious role as the title character in "Simple Jack" resulted in negative reviews and ridicule. Comedian Jeff Portnoy is best known for his leading roles in sophomoric comedies, and may be less well known for his rampant drug use. Five time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus is a serious method actor, who immerses himself in whatever the role. On location in southeast Vietnam, they are the stars of "Tropic Thunder", based on Vietnam war veteran 'Four Leaf' Tayback's memoirs of his rescue during the war, that rescue which was considered a near suicide mission for the assigned army force and resulted in him losing both hands. For his role, Caucasian Australian Lazarus even went through a controversial surgical skin dying procedure so that he could convincingly play a black man. Production is not going well since rookie director Damien Cockburn is unable to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Get Some See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK | Germany

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

13 August 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tropic Thunder See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$92,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,812,796, 17 August 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$110,515,313

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$188,072,649
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Downey, Jr. was very reluctant to take the role in this film because he felt wearing make-up to look African-American was offensive. Downey ultimately accepted the role because he liked the script and wanted to work with Ben Stiller and Jack Black. See more »

Goofs

Les Grossman says that "Speedman is a dying star, a white dwarf heading for a black hole. That's physics. It's inevitable." But a white dwarf do not head for a black hole, white dwarf is the final state of average and small stars. White dwarfs will eventually become black dwarfs once they cool off, in a very very long time, so long that there's no known black dwarf existed in our universe. See more »

Quotes

Jeff Portnoy: [heading towards an ox] I need to bite its hide... and wear its stomach like a unitard.
Kirk Lazarus: Ain't nobody doing nothing to no one or body! Now, Mr. Portnoy is feeling a little flu-ish, don't wanna walk, put him up on that cloven-hoof animal!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Movie begins with advertisement and fake trailers where the "actors" appear. See more »


Soundtracks

The Name Of The Game
Written by Ken Jordan, Scott Kirkland & Tom Morello
Performed by The Crystal Method
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Although it is right on the edge of disaster, the film is actually pretty funny and smart if you go with it
15 October 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When an all-star Vietnam film is put in the hands of a first time British director, the results are an ego-dominated shambles that is a month behind schedule after only five days of shooting. Director Damien Cockburn makes a decision that the experiences of "Four Leaf" Tayback will be best captured on film by dropping the basic cast in the jungle and forcing them to experience as close to reality as possible while catching it all on camera. Sadly when Cockburn is killed by a mine mere minutes into the mission, the cast are left in the middle of a dangerous jungle, not entirely sure of whether this is real or not.

When I went to see this film I hadn't expected it to be much more than a basic comedy but the reality is that this is a pretty smart satire of Hollywood and movie acting that also produces silly laughs one would expect from a Ben Stiller film. The "black-face" issue has been mentioned in regards the film walking a fine line between being funny or offensive but to me the bigger tightrope act is between being funny and being stupidly silly. Here and there it gets very close to falling over that line (eg all of Tom Cruise's stuff) but if you are with it then it manages to just about stay on the right side of the line. The daft plot allows for micky-taking in regards big studio action movies, spoilt actors, bad projects, studio executives and so on – it is never sensible but it is mostly very funny. I think the film doesn't always succeed though because it sort of straddles two stools and those who want one or the other will have reservations while the smaller number who recognise both stools will perhaps see flaws on both. To explain that better I should probably say what I mean rather than referring to furniture and backsides. See as a satire it is undeniably broad and clumsy with the digs being made in clever but still quite obvious ways and you do have plenty of laughs that are knock-about that don't sit with those looking for smart satire. On the other hand you have those who love the silliness of it but don't really "get" it when it is trying to make digs even if they laugh their heads off at a character eating blood in the misunderstanding of it being a special effect. Somehow though it just about works by just going all out for it and things like the racial issues, anti-Semitic stuff etc all hang together sufficiently.

The cast are a big part of making it work. Stiller is solid throughout and works his character as well as he makes fun of him. Downey Jr is very impressive as the deep-method actor who produces the controversy. Black is a necessary evil but at least his character's drug addiction makes him of value within the satire even if his performance is still a fat guy shouting. I liked the support from both Baruchel and Jackson, who held their own alongside the starry cast. The rest of the cast include solid turns from Nolte, Coogan, Maguire (great superhero movie reference), Pollack and others are all in the shadow of a great Tom Cruise who to me is the one we should be talking about when it comes to controversy tightropes. He is always about an inch away from being embarrassingly silly but yet he pulls it off.

Tropic Thunder is not a perfect film by any means. The satire and the knock-about humour don't compliment one another that well but somehow it all works and the majority of the risky moves are pulled off even if it is not quite as clever as it would like to be. To some it will be the stupidest thing they have ever seen, to others – the funniest; the truth is somewhere in the middle and it is enjoyable for it.


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