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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
1,148 ( 2)
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:

The movie they think they're making... isn't a movie anymore. 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

Co-Writer Justin Theroux said the film was easy to write because audiences have become aware of the process of film production. 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

Four Leaf Tayback: Spanking a child turns him into a snot. Fear, that's what makes him a man. I know a place where a man's worth is measured by the ears hanging off his dog tags. The real hardcore shit! You wanna make this movie right? That's where you take your pansy ass actors.
Les Grossman: [beat] Who is this guy?
Studio Executive Rob Slolom: Les, that's Four Leaf.
Four Leaf Tayback: Sergeant Four Leaf Tayback. I wrote the book.
Les Grossman: Wow. You're a great American. This nation owes you a huge debt. Now shut the fuck up and let me do my job!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Tom Cruise (as Les) dances and the end credits start. Scenes from the movie are mixed in. See more »

Alternate Versions

There is a director's extended cut which is available on the 3-disc special edition in the UK which contains more footage - runtime of overall film is 116 minutes on back of DVD case. See more »


Soundtracks

Ready Set Go
Written by Nick Grant
Performed by Ben Gidsjoy
Courtesy of Sublime Music
By Arrangement with Zync Music Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Welcome to the goodie room…Tropic Thunder
6 August 2008 | by jaredmobarakSee all my reviews

Despite my somewhat indifference, bordering on dislike, of Ben Stiller and most of what he does, Tropic Thunder has been on my much-anticipated list for some time now. The audacity of what he was attempting, spoofing the industry that was giving him the money to do so, blatantly and lovingly, was too great to ignore. And then there is the cast of stars with cameo after cameo of surprise faces joining in on the fun, not to mention the intense marketing strategy pushing it along. Websites for each fictional actor, a site with clips from the Rain of Madness making of documentary (a Heart of Darkness send up "directed" by co-writer Justin Theroux), and even a faux E! True Hollywood Story to air the week before its premiere in theatres just add to the mythology and attention to detail that went into its making. Now, having finally seen the end result, I must say it didn't let me down. True, I was expecting more in the way of story and plot, especially with all that background info manufactured, but when you get down to it, the entertainment value is off the charts, the one-liners are going to be quoted for years to come, and the laughs come often and hard.

To take on subject matter as lofty as a send-up to war films, mainly Apocalypse Now, needs a certain amount to bravery and confidence to not care if it all backfires. The production value and effects make this seem as though it is a certified blockbuster falling apart at the seams. Sure the characters are funny and the events on display hilarious, but by the look and feel of the aesthetic, this is a war film to the end. Between that realism and the love I have for meta-narrative, there was little chance Stiller would be bombing in my eyes. Something about movies within movies intrigue the heck out of me, and this one having actors within actors just played up my interest more. There was truly no better way to start this movie then how was done: the playing of Alpa Chino's rap music, consumerism selling commercial and trailers for our three leads' previous films. What better way to be introduced to our action star, our funnyman, and our award winning thespian? Knowing full well the extent of satire going on, each spot delivers, giving a little background into the work these men have done in the past.

Directly connecting with the subsequent shot, a live scene from the film at hand, the egos finally come out and show face. Jack Black's Jeff Portney reins in his comedian schtick to portray a hardened solider, voice rasping as he shows his serious side; Stiller's Tugg Speedman attempts to revive the action cred he tried to leave behind with his Oscar-bait turn as a mentally handicapped man in Simple Jack, where he went "full retarded, no one ever comes back from that"; and Robert Downey Jr.'s Kirk Lazarus, Australian genius at his craft, playing a black man like he was born one. The scene continues without a hitch, explosions everywhere, screams heard in the distance, and a heartfelt death about to be delivered, until the men show their true colors. Tugg can't make himself cry, (he's just not that good), and Kirk's blubbering and drooling is just so real that the two must partake in a pissing match while effects guru Cody, (the red hot of late Danny McBride), let's loose the one-take only scorched earth fire storm. It's all falling apart and script-writer/former soldier Four Leaf, (the always gruff Nick Nolte), gets the director, (Steve Coogan with one of the best film exits I've ever seen), to agree on guerilla filming, deep in the jungle of foreign lands. Here is where the fun begins and where the movie inside the movie becomes real, or, in effect, the actual movie—kind of like "the dude playing the dude, disguised as another dude". The levels at play here are just too many to mention.

Besides a weakly written role for Black, the rest of the men are given enough to work with for some truly great moments. Stiller has a few instances where he returns to his over-long annoying routine—pouring "fake" blood into his mouth for one—but for the most part did a real good job, especially with his tough guy poses shooting off his gun. Jay Baruchel shines as the only non-celebrity involved, the guy who went to boot camp, read the novel and the script, and idolizes the men he is working with. Good to see him get a more beefed up role as opposed to the side parts in Apatow films. And the back and forth between Downey Jr. and Brandon T. Jackson's Alpa never get old. The whole dynamic of real black man versus fake was unceasingly funny.

There were plot points that irked me throughout, TiVo's cameo being the biggest culprit, but I found myself pushing the problems aside and just enjoying the ride. Downey Jr.'s facial expressions, voices, and presence may steal the show, but what really allowed me to forget my worries was an absolutely brilliant cameo from Tom Cruise. His studio executive, pompously crass, loud-mouth made me think of all the horror stories you hear about the Weinsteins, and his dance moves can not be equaled. Tropic Thunder is first and foremost a vehicle for a bunch of friends to have a blast poking fun at their craft and really at themselves. I'll be remembering quotes all night now, thinking that while the story itself doesn't necessitate me watching it again soon, the jokes just might make buying it a must…not to mention the wealth of extras that DVD is sure to have.


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