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
In one of the Special Features in the Director's Cut DVD, Ben Stiller said he had been developing ideas for this movie for about eight to ten years. One of his first ideas, was that the movie was going to be about actors going to a "fake boot camp" for a couple of weeks, and coming back with P.T.S.D. When Stiller started out in Hollywood, he had a lot of colleagues going into war movies, and they would attend a "fake boot camp" in order to prepare for their roles. He found it ridiculous, and this was an early inspiration on what would become Tropic Thunder (2008). See more »
During the hostage negotiations, Les Grossmans beard changes thickness. At one point it is 2 days growth most of the time it is 4-5 days worth. See more »
Scorcher Preview Narrator:
In a time where to be different was to be condemned...
[Lazarus and Toby Maguire looks longingly at each other, both are dressed as monks]
Scorcher Preview Narrator:
... and to be condemned was to die, one man chose to question his God.
[Lazarus screams angrily]
Scorcher Preview Narrator:
From Fox Searchlight, five-time Academy Award winner Kirk Lazarus and MTV Movie Award Best Kiss winner Tobey Maguire. Winner of the Beijing Film Festival's coveted Crying Monkey Award, "Satan's Alley".
[voice over whispers]
I've been a bad, bad boy, ...
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Movie begins with advertisement and fake trailers where the "actors" appear. See more »
Damn, is Robert Downey Jr. on a roll Rarely (if they occur at all) have comebacks been so bold and so memorable. When slated to star as Tony Stark in May's Iron Man which kicked off the blockbuster season with a bang and a slap, the public, excluding his die-hard supporters of course, were baffled at the atypical casting choice of the Marvel hero. For myself, I have always loved Downey Jr. from his excellent portrayal as Charlie Chapin, to his perfectly suited role in Shane Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he is always the best thing about a film. Lightening struck again (or I suppose first, if you want to follow his career chronologically) midyear with his smart portrayal as an overprotective principal in Charlie Bartlet, so it only seems suitable for him to cap off the summer with his best work yet.
Directed by, and starring Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder is an epically vast improvement over the suicide inducing effort that was Zoolander and finds Stiller in his best comedic acting form since Meet the Parents. Our adventure follows a group of primadonna actors who are shooting a high budget war epic in Vietnam. As director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) sees his funds draining and his production falling apart at the hands of the maddeningly inept cast, the inspiration for the movie "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Nolte) suggests that the film would be better shot guerrilla style using hidden cameras and some improvisation. But, after a series of unfortunate (but hilarious) events leave the troupe stranded, they must both save the picture which their careers are riding on, and possibly themselves at the same time. Adding the flavour to this endeavour are Tugg Speedman (Stiller) as a flailing action has-been, Jack Black, who has also had a successful year, as Jeff Portnoy, an Eddie Murphy-esquire comic, Apatow regular Jay Baruchel as Kevin Sandusky, rapper turned actor Alpha Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and of course Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.) as the Oscar winning method actor. We also get career high cameo and supporting work from various familiar Hollywood faces, Mathew McConaughey and the much buzzed appearance by Tom Cruise, who is simply fantastic.
The most satisfying aspect of Tropic Thunder is that despite show stealing work from Cruise and Downey Jr. everyone gets their slice of the comedy pie. One actor is never in the spotlight too much, and nobody hogs the funny too much. And boy is there a lot of funny; this film is one of, if not the best satire made about Hollywood and the jokes come high and low, subtly and bluntly, and they almost always strike home. Controversy has been in the air surrounding both Downey Jr.'s blackface portrayal as an African American and gags surrounding a film Tugg Speedman had previously filmed in which he was mentally handicapped. While it is inevitable that some will be offended, it is important to remember that both of these jabs are not against such groups, but against Hollywood who churns out method actors who take their job with a block of salt, not a grain. Even complaints I have read regarding this film I see as intentional inclusions by Stiller, who I believe has been in the business too long to have done such without careful thought and consideration.
The film starts without warning with a series of phony trailers featuring the stars of the feature, and are some of the funniest segments I have ever seen, especially that of Downey Jr.'s. Tropic Thunder does not let up however as the ready to quote one-lines, again mostly from Downey Jr. and Cruise, come so fast you will have to make a list once the film has concluded. All in all, this picture is what we needed, a biting satire/spoof that doesn't have the word Movie after it. With a similar action/comedy hybrid formula as this year's Pineapple Express (which both star Danny McBride), Tropic Thunder pours on the laughs like a storm and presents a wit that is nothing less then lightening quick.
View all my reviews at Simon Says Movie Reviews: www.simonsaysmovies.blogspot.com
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