Friday, July 11, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Title: Tropic Thunder (2008)
Dir: Ben Stiller
Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

I had very high hopes for this film, and I was not disappointed in the least. The script and performances are outrageously funny, the soundtrack kicks ass, and even the action is pretty good. Seeing this film a month early has been torture, as I just want to see it again and again!

Tropic Thunder is about the filming of the biggest, most expensive (fake) Vietnam epic ever made. When the shoot goes horribly awry and director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) can't control his prima donna actors, he follows the advice of a grizzly war veteran (Nick Nolte) and puts his stars in the middle of a real Vietnam jungle.

Among the cast are: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), who is trying to revive his dwindling action career; Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), a two-bit comedian with a heroine addiction; Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), who dyed his skin to play a black soldier; young rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); and rookie actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Once in the jungle, Speedman refuses to believe their predicament is real and sticks to the script, while his co-stars try to find the helicopter and get back to the set. But when Tugg is kidnapped by guerillas, it is up to his fellow actors to rescue him.

The script, written by Stiller and fellow actor-turned-writer Justin Theroux, is hilarious, and no doubt laced with improvised gems, as well. There are so many moments of side-splitting hilarity, especially when Downey Jr. is on the screen. His random one-liners and racial head-butting with Alpa Chino are just great. I loved everyone in the cast, even crazy Nick Nolte and Tom Cruise (as a bald, belligerant studio exec). Danny McBride also turns in another funny performance.

The controversy surrounding this movie is complete bullshit, by the way. Amazingly, the "blackface" didn't bother too many people, but the use of the word "retard" did. Those protesting this film haven't even seen it or just don't get the joke. The script is poking fun at the vanity and stupidity of actors chasing Oscar gold - it is NOT making fun of mentally handicapped people at all. Know the facts or shut your mouths, people.

Anyway, the movie is fun, non-stop hilarious, and even has some badass 60's music. I highly recommend getting the official soundtrack. Tropic Thunder is hands-down the funniest film so far this year, and I highly doubt anything will be able to top it. The ball is in your court, Zack and Miri Make a Porno!