Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder; Comedy, USA, 2008; D: Ben Stiller, S: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson, Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Tobey Maguire

In five days of principal photography, the expensive Vietnam war film "Tropic Thunder" is already one month behind schedule. The studio executive Les blames it all on young director Damian, who, together with the author of the novel, John "Four Leaf", decides to sober the spoiled Hollywood stars Tugg, Kirk, Jeff and raper Alpa Chino by leaving them alone in the jungle. Unfortunately, Damian dies by stepping on a land mine while Tugg gets captured by a heroin cartel led by a kid. Uniting their strengths, the actors manage to rescue Tugg, shoot the film and win an Oscar for best actor.

Ben Stiller's fourth directorial work, "Tropic Thunder" is a mixed bag and depending on the viewers inclinations, it will either be perceived as a funny comedy with some bad jokes or a bad comedy with a few truly funny jokes. The first 20 minutes of the film are universally accepted and regarded by everyone as comic genius by spoofing some of the most annoying cliches in Hollywood, particularly in the hilarious fake trailers at the beginning: One of them is "Scorcher", a trailer for an action film promoting its actor Tugg (Stiller) who saves the World by holding a machine gun in one arm and a baby in another, while the landscape is all red from heat. Then it shows his newest and "biggest" adventure, "Scorcher VI" - where he is seen holding two machine guns and two babies are attached to him, but this time the landscape is all frozen. He then delivers the cheesy line: "Who didn't close the fridge?" The delicious trailer for "The Fatties" shows that "Norbit" at least had one purpose while the trailer for two gay priests (Downey, Jr. and Maguire) also ends with holding a mirror to pompous marketing by ending with a fade out in tune to the insanely funny line: "I was a naughty boy..." Unfortunately, once the actors are lost in the jungle, it seems the whole film got lost - it almost lowered down to some of the trailers of cheap films presented at the start. With time, it simply had too much garbage humor (the ill-considered "jokes" on the expense of a decapitated head alone reduced the film's quality by 20 %), annoying yelling and useless characters. Cruise is surreal in his almost unrecognizable role while his swearing is so much over-the-top that it's almost funny. However, the only consistently good point is Downey Jr. with an excellent African-American mock-accent - that is something that really deserves to be heard.


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