Sunday, April 26, 2009

FILM: Review: Tropic Thunder

*Posted August 14, 2008*

Sadly, it did not live up to my high expectations. The premise is great, Ben Stiller directing is better than great, their viral stuff was better than most, and the reviews are stellar. What went wrong? It never reached that next level in the last half of the movie that I was expecting. That's pretty vague, but I kept sitting in the theater thinking, "there has to be more than this," but then the big finale and credits go by. Tropic Thunder is loaded with profanity, but almost all of the time they are throwing around these swear words, expecting them to be the joke. You can't just add "fuck" to a sentence and it expect it to be funnier because of it. Those were my new biggest concerns; the sometimes lazy writing and the plot that never reached its potential. What about the good stuff? Everything that doesn't happen in the jungle is absolutely hilarious. The three fake trailers at the beginning of the movie for Scorcher VII: Global Meltdown, The Fatties: Fart 2, and Satan's Alley are spot on parodies of action movies (Die Hard), Eddie Murphy movies (Klumps), and Oscar bait movies. The beginning of the movie where they are shooting on location is another hilarious sequence where we see the introduction of the characters. Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Tom Cruise, Danny McBride, and Matthew McConaughey are all funny and effective in their roles. Robert Downey Jr.'s much praised black character role was a little disappointing. It is convincing and often funny, but a lot of times he's just hard to understand. After their adventure in the jungle, we have an amusing epilogue that I don't want to ruin. The war films they send up throughout the film are easy to spot (Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter, Saving Private Ryan, etc), and the celebrity cameos (just like in Zoolander) are great. But overall, the funniest bits are the subtle visual treasures (when showing the Best Actor nominees at the Oscars, we see that Tom Hanks was nominated for playing a guy in a wheelchair), whereas the more obvious stuff (like dialogue) is underwhelming.


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