Diary of a Network Geek

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Review: Tropic Thunder

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:34 pm for you boring, normal people.
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I saw Tropic Thunder this weekend.

Now, I’m not a huge Ben Stiller fan, but some of his stuff is pretty funny. Granted, sometimes, he goes a little too far, but, mostly, he’s just okay in my book. Well, with Tropic Thunder, even when he goes too far, he’s funny. Yes, in spite of what amounts to little more than a really big cameo part by Tom Cruise, who I truly find distasteful at best, Tropic Thunder was a winner for me.

So, here’s the premise… A group of over-paid, big-name Hollywood actors making a book, that none of them have read, into a war movie. But, the movie, the meta-movie, makes fun of these guys and the whole Hollywood machine. Frankly, it’s the perfect movie for Robert Downey, Jr., who’s been the ultimate outsider in movies and Hollywood for years. And, Ben Stiller must have really hit a nerve or two in LaLa Land with this on.
The movie opens with faux advertising and trailers from the characters in the movie. They start them seamlessly from the actual trailers before the real film. Then, they get into E! News, talking about the film the characters are making in the movie. Ben Stiller plays a fading action hero. Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian method actor who’s an Oscar winner, but a little crazy. He gets a “surgery” to make him look black so he can play a black man in the film the characters are making. Then, there’s Jack Black who plays a coked-up comedian who’s only skill seems to be wearing makeup and farting. He’s hilarious. And, of course, there’s the rookie and the rapper. Oh, and Nick Nolte who plays the handicapped Vietnam vet who wrote the book that only the rookie has read. In fact, it comes out that he’s the only one who read the entire script at one point!

So, add these guys all together in the jungle in Vietnam and mix in Matthew McConaughey as super agent Rick Peck aka “The Pecker” who’s trying to get Stiller’s character his Tivo from vile producer Les Grossman played by a frighteningly realistic Tom Cruise. (Honestly, I think we get to see Tom Cruise’s real, bald head in this movie! I guess Scientology can’t cure everything, eh?)
Well, when Hollywood, and actor’s egos, get in the way of making a good film, the director takes Vietnam vet Nolte’s advice and takes the movie out into the jungle, guerrilla style, things get a little out of control. Things start to go really wrong when the director steps on an old, French land mine and the guys just, well, they just don’t get it. They think it’s all to get them into character. As they stumble along, acting out their movie with real-live heroin manufacturers in the jungle, a lot of things are revealed to be somewhat other than they first seem. Those reveals are where the real hilarity ensue.

Look, I don’t want to spoil this movie for you and I really recommend that you see it. It’s funny in ways that I cannot capture with my description of it here. It is a great, but subtle, parody of every war film made since Apocalypse Now. More than that, though, it’s a very funny commentary on both Hollywood in particular and our consumer, entertainment oriented society in general.

Oh, one thing, it is very much NOT politically correct at all. There is gratuitous use of verbal slurs in regards to the mentally handicapped. Also, it won’t surprise me if the NAACP or someone very much like them gets all bent out of shape about the way Robert Downey, Jr. plays an actor playing a person of another race.
But, if you can get past those things, it’s a very funny movie. Honest.

1 Comment

  1. hehehe your Capcha is “scotch”
    v. fitting!

    I actually read somehwere that the usage of spaz or some such term was causing the movie to be boycotted by one of the Handicap Associations.

    Sounds good, I’m only half interested in seeing it, maybe somewhere on our travels we’ll score it for free or something 🙂

    Comment by Dataceptionist — 8/22/2008 @ 4:38 am

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