Short version: Tropic Thunder is crass, gross and rude – but it’s also funny as hell.
Screen Rant reviews Tropic Thunder
Can i make this any more clear?
Leave. The kids. At Home.
Ok, got it? Let’s move on.
For adults, and for further clarification: Adults that don’t mind rude, crass humor – Tropic Thunder is a VERY funny movie.
One of the few problems with Tropic Thunder is that it starts out so damned funny that the rest of the movie has a hard time living up to those opening scenes. The film opens with a montage of clips that introduce the audience to the actors in the film. When I say “actors” I don’t mean Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. – I mean the actors they portray in the film (in matching order to the previous list): Tugg Speedman, Jeff Portnoy and Kirk Lazarus.
The film opens with a combination of fake trailers, Entertainment Tonight-type clips and a commercial for an energy drink called “Booty Sweat” (promoted by Alpa Cino, who is played by Brandon T. Jackson). We see that Tugg Speedman is an action star who made a play at winning an Oscar by playing a mentally handicapped character in the movie “Simple Jack.” Kirk Lazarus is the guy who actually gets the Oscars (shown in a trailer that cameos Tobey Macguire and was quite hysterical), and Jeff Portnoy is an out-of-control comedy actor that does the sort of films that Eddie Murphy has done of late.
All of the actors involved are spoiled beyond belief and the director of the film within the film, “Tropic Thunder”, is at his wit’s end as to how to get the movie made which although it only started filming days ago is already somehow months behind schedule.
In comes Vietnam vet Nick Nolte, upon whose life experience the film is based. His suggestion is to drop the cast in the jungle – no entourage, no lattes, no Tivo and have them experience what it would really be like. What no one knows is that the cast has been dropped in the midst of an area controlled by a drug lord who doesn’t take kindly to outsiders.
The film shifts gears for the characters as they eventually realize the predicament they’re in and have to “man-up” to deal with the situation.
Now anyone who reads Screen Rant regularly knows that I’m not a big fan of “stupid-funny” comedies. While Tropic Thunder is certainly silly, it doesn’t descend to the level of stupidity as so many other recent comedies have done. What’s funny about the film is the fact that the actors (the real actors, not the characters in the film) are all pretty much poking fun at themselves. The only exception (as Harry Knowles pointed out in his review) is Ben Stiller, who is parodying an action star when he isn’t one.
There is some serious gore in this movie, but it’s played for laughs (there’s one scene with Ben Stiller holding a head that will really gross you out if you’re not accustomed to this sort of thing). Stiller was OK, and Jack Black starts out super-annoying but you’ll warm up to him by the end of the film. However without a doubt the man who steals the movie is Robert Downey Jr. as the white actor who undergoes surgery to play a black man in the film – and utterly immerses himself in the role.
Watching Downey play a white actor playing a black man who convinces himself he really IS black is too funny for words. And the juxtaposition of placing him in a scene with a real black actor who is vexed at Downey Jr’s attitude just adds to the mix.
When another character in the film refers to “you people” (meaning everyone present) Downey’s indignation when he says “what do you mean: ‘you people’”… well, it makes me laugh right now just thinking about it.
With the crappy comedies that we’ve seen this year like The Love Guru and Don’t Mess with the Zohan, it was a pleasure to watch a movie that actually managed to make me laugh. A lot.