The Lane Train

News and Pop Culture for the Blog Generation

Movie Review: Tropic Thunder

Posted by thelanetrain on August 17, 2008

So as I posted ever so briefly two nights ago, Tropic Thunder is the best comedy of the summer.  It’s arguably funnier than that movie about the stonerfucks, and it makes fun of so many things: the movie business, actors, war movies, veterans, children, etc…  The list goes on and on.  But what makes Tropic Thunder so great is that unlike a lot of other comedies which put the bulk of the work upon one, two, or a few principals (like Step Brothers, or The Love Guru), Tropic Thunder makes every character equally amusing to watch and truly uses the ensemble cast to its full potential.  Plus, Tom Cruise is fucking hilarious to watch as a foulmouthed movie exec.

After The Jump: The full review

Premise: It’s the fifth day on the set of Tropic Thunder  (the film within the film) and things are going terribly.  First time director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) can’t get a grip of his actors:  Action hero Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), drug addled funnyman Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), serious Aussie actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.), “Bootysweat” hawking rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson), and newcomer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel).  The film is nearly a month behind schedule and things take a turn for the worse when special effects man Cody (Danny McBride) wastes four million dollars of explosives between takes.  Producer Les Goldman (Tom Cruise) threatens to shut down the film, while Speedman’s agent The Pecker (Matthew McConaughey) has been working hard to help turn around Tugg’s image since it was damaged while playing a retarded farm-hand in the bomb Simple Jack.  Unsure of what to do, Cockburn consults the film’s inspiration, Four-Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), the Vietnam veteran who wrote the book on which the movie is being based off of.  He suggests to dump the five principals in the middle of the jungle while shooting the movie “guerilla style”.  Cockburn and Tayback set up hidden cameras throughout the jungle and proceed to abandon the actors.  However, things take a turn for the worse when a group of real Vietnamese drug lords mistake the actors for soldiers, and take Speedman hostage.  It’s up to the rest of the actors to save their star and make it out alive.

The laughs start right from the beginning with a fake commercial and three trailers preceding the movie: One for Alpa Chino’s “Bootysweat” energy drink, another for Tugg Speedman’s newest action movie (Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown), one for Portnoy’s latest entry in his nonsense comedy series “The Fatties”, and a final trailer for a movie with Kirk Lazarus about two gay monks who must harbor their secret (aptly named, “Satan’s Alley”).  As for the movie itself, it is beautifully shot, well edited, and contains plenty of funny dialogue.  One very understated character is Goldman’s assistant, played by Bill Hader, who executes his role perfectly as the stiff, sycophantic underling of Goldman, catering to his every whim, no matter how ridiculous, and in one scene where The Pecker meets Goldman and faces an ethical dilemma about whether to save or abandon Tugg Speedman, Goldman and his assistant “dance” to Flo Rida’s single “Low” in absurd white boy fashion.

Looking back, there are no real complaints.  The story moves at a fine pace, although some sections could have been sped up to allow for more jokes.  The comedic hero of the film is without a doubt Robert Downey, Jr., who even fooled me for a long time that he was in reality a white guy.  In the film, his character, Kirk Lazarus, never drops character, not even for a second, until he realizes he needs to stop acting to save his buddies.  And while there are plenty of serious messages hidden within the context of tons of foul language, gags, and Zoolander-esque scenes, Tropic Thunder is just a fuckin’ funny film. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and just go.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

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