Sunday, July 5, 2009

TROPIC THUNDER (Ben Stiller, 2008, USA) TROPIC THUNDER’S heart of darkness explodes with the shrapnel of irony, a cutting satire that excises Hollywood excess. Full of self-deprecating humor, each character is a shadow of the actor who hides behind the makeup: Robert Downey Jr. pokes fun at his own reputation as a “serious” performer, Jack Black at his penchant for playing “fat” roles, Ben Stiller and his perpetual “full retard” shtick, Nick Nolte as a growling “handless” veteran, and Tom Cruise as a bald slimy Producer with a “RISKY BUSINESS” song and dance homage. The film begins with faux movie trailers that set up each character’s business persona so it can be deconstructed as the film progresses. Then we cut to what seems to be a serious war drama with shades of APOCALYPSE NOW and PLATOON, but soon becomes apparent that it’s a parody of popular war convention…and it’s played straight! Jets of blood streaming nonstop from a head wound, guts spilled onto the ground, a soldier shot hundreds of times but keeps running, and his comrade that jumps from the helicopter to save him from the onrushing enemy. Of course, the brotherly dialogue as one man lies dying is meant to wrench your heart, and this whole sequence is played to perfect sidesplitting effect. But as the film progresses, it’s Robert Downey immersed as an Australian playing an American black soldier that carries the narrative weight: Kirk Lazarus must rise from the dead, his true identity hidden by the masks of comedy and tragedy: to save his comrades he must speak with his own voice once again. His dialogue with Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) about his role of SIMPLE JACK is dead-on hilarious, never actually considering his own fault of going “full black”. A wink to Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN becomes fuel for laughter as Speedman scrambles in the dirt after an explosion, his hearing muffled as time slows down; his friends caught amid a hellish inferno. Finally, this absurd story comes full circle, a nexus of celluloid fiction and reality, and Speedman receives his accolades…for just being himself. (C)

3 comments:

Alex DeLarge said...

Those who have been following my blog (Thank you!) and those who know me personally, must be asking yourselves: what the fuck are you watching Alex?? Well, I let a friend from work bring her blu-ray over to my theatre Saturday night as a birthday gift, to watch on the big screen. I didn't expect much (I was planing on watching a Sidney Lumet film) and with consternation began the movie. Let be quite honest...I FUCKING HATE BEN STILLER. He's as funny as anal cancer and though he may be a nice guy and all in real life, I'll stay away from his "creative output".
But TROPIC THUNDER had its moments of glory, most likey due to the writing credits of Joel Coen and of course the great Robert Downey, Jr. Enjoyable but forgettable, I now return to my regularly scheduled programming.

LDCD said...

Good post like your take on Tropic Thunder, i really enjoyed it but some of my friends really did not. You have been nominated for a BoB award where you could win 1000 dollars.

Alex DeLarge said...

I'm not sure what a BoB Award is but thank you!