a critiQal film review Tropic Thunder (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: A group of self-absorbed actors set out to make the most expensive war film. But after ballooning costs force the studio to cancel the movie, the frustrated director refuses to stop shooting, leading his cast into the jungles of Southeast Asia, where they encounter real bad guys.

527 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 38s)
  • ...Good performances by Stiller, Black and Downey are just the tip of the iceberg in the funniest film of the summer!

After the non-stop laughing that came with watching Ben Stiller’s last directorial feat Zoolander, we couldn’t wait for his long-awaited new film, Tropic Thunder to hit theaters, and immediately added it to our must-see list this Summer.

But, after such a long time away from the director’s chair, would Stiller be able to bring the hilarity to this war movie / Hollywood actor spoof combo (And, would Tom Cruise’s much-talked about role as a a balding, overweight studio exec be worth the screen time)?

Like most ensemble films, Tropic Thunder relies on more than one member of the cast to make the movie great. While Ben Stiller yet again puts himself in a leading role in his own film, just like with Zoolander, he doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight – and this time around he’s got a lot to back him up.

Not only is funnyman Jack Black on board, but new Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey and yes, even Tom Cruise are some of the big names contributing to Tropic Thunder. Each seems hand-picked for their roles, and all perform admirably.

Jack Black, the overweight comedian with a drug problem; Robert Downey Jr, a method actor who goes to extremes to “be” his character (and with no drug problem); Ben Stiller, the “action” star/Schwarzenegger wannabe just coming off a role that required him to stretch his nearly non-existent acting talent; Matthew McConaughey, a fresh-faced agent unused to “rough” movie politics; Nick Nolte, the grizzled veteran whose a little off his rocker – all help make Tropic Thunder as engaging as it is hilarious.

That’s not to say the lesser-known names don’t contribute – in fact, while Brandon T. Jackson, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride and bad guy Bill Hader also give decent performances, Jay Baruchel almost steals the show. As a fresh-faced actor going “old school” (ie..reading the book the film is based on AND the script – an idea that startles his fellow actors), he has some of the most memorable moments in the film, and is a definite standout in the film – despite a somewhat rocky beginning.

And yes, Tom Cruise’s performance is a scene-stealer – and a definite must-see. As a balding overweight studio exec with a sailor’s vocabulary, he’s definitely going to turn heads. And when he tops off his performance with some fresh dance moves, he’ll leave the audience rolling with laughter. Definitely a sight to see.

While an hour and 47 minute running time seems a bit long for a comedy, Tropic Thunder never seems to lag. Hilarious fake movie previews are just the start of this comical ride, and the film, through it’s many twists and turns, will keep the audience chuckling throughout.

Sure, not every joke makes the mark it wants to, and there are a few totally unexplained elements, but overall, Tropic Thunder should leave most viewers pretty happy.

Mixing action, comedy, and a couple of movie spoofs (Platoon and Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind two of the most obvious) – not to mention the insider ribbing of actors and Hollywood in general – Tropic Thunder is defnitely worth seeing in theaters.

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