By Tyler Gilliam
It should have been a simple case of mathematics. Take one actor I love, Robert Downey, Jr. Add the three kings of obnoxiously horrible theatre-Tom Cruise, Jack Black, and Matthew McConaughey. Then sprinkle in dashes of writing and editing and throw in a starring role for Ben Stiller. What do you get? A huge flop? Surprisingly, no. Despite all my reasons to avoid this potential catastrophe, I just couldn’t help myself. Tropic Thunder looked hilarious. That and I had no idea Cruise and McConaughey were in the film.
Tropic Thunder is a movie about the production of a Vietnam War movie. The movie, however, quickly turns more real when the actors’ inflated egos spur the director to take them from the set and drop them in the actual jungle. Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Night At The Museum) plays Tugg Speedman, a hot action star gone cold. He is a classic man’s man type actor whose lack of acting skill has been overshadowed by his brawn. Yes, I’m still talking about Ben Stiller. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Chaplin) plays Kirk Lazarus. He is “the dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.” If that wasn’t clear enough, New York native Downey, Jr. plays an award-winning Australian actor portraying a black man.
Jack Black (Tenacious D, School of Rock) plays Jeff Portnoy, a drug-addicted comedic actor haunted by his fart-joke laden Eddie Murphy-esqe comedies.
I’m a critical person, I really am. But, I shall endure the lump in my throat and swallow my pride as I write this sentence. I enjoyed Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey in this movie. Whew! That was hard, but I’m man enough to call it like I see it.
Cruise (Mission Impossible, War of the Worlds) gives an over-the-top performance as a big-wig producer. His dialogue, attitude, and trademark dance moves were impossible to ignore. He stole the show. I’ve made it a point in the past to voice my opinion on McConaughey (Fool’s Gold, Failure To Launch), but he was really great in this one.
He plays Tugg’s eager-to-please agent who is bent on making sure his client gets his TiVo. Tropic Thunder is loaded with explosions and special effects for the opening, showing that apparently low-budget is a term not in Dreamworks’ vocabulary. While the effects were great, the dialogue between the movie’s characters made it a great film that held my attention.
I wouldn’t think twice about recommending this to anyone looking for a great comedy, unless you’re offended by racism, homophobia, drug addiction, or male nudity. If the previews offend you, I suggest you borrow your buddy’s spine and see it anyway.
I may even have to give it a second look just to ensure I didn’t miss a moment. I’m sure I did because I was doubled over for most of the film. In case my point hasn’t come across just yet, I’ll end by demanding you to go see this film. Now.