Tropic Thunder

Soundtrack & Musical Score

Music By: Various Artists

Musical Score By: Theodore Shapiro

Distributed by: Lakeshore Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The last time I ventured into a movie theater, I watched a trailer for the new comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr.  The movie, called Tropic Thunder, centers about a group of truly self-absorbed actors intent on creating the most expensive war film to date.  Unfortunately, due to the rise in budget costs for the film, the movie studio decides to cancel production, leaving the frustrated director to seek other means for completing his film.  He decides to bring his actors to Southeast Asia to complete the film in true to life circumstances.  However, he has neglected to tell the actors that they will not be performing on sound stages and that the locals they meet are not actors.  The trailer of the film seemed rather funny.  I was happy when I checked my mail later that week and discovered that I had received not only the Tropic Thunder Motion Picture Score, but the musical soundtrack of the film as well.

            American composer Theodore Shapiro was tapped to create the musical score for Tropic Thunder.  Having began his career as a composer of music for concert stage, television and film at the age of 27, Shapiro has amassed quite a resume, winning awards for compositions created for Blades of Glory, The Devil Wears Prada, You, Me and Dupree, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Starsky & Hutch and Along Came Polly.  The musical score created for Tropic Thunder has a distinct dramatic movie feel.  The exotic locale of the movie is expressed via woodwind and percussion instruments.  Action is implied via horns, percussion and rocking guitars.  If someone were to listen to the Tropic Thunder Motion Picture Score without prior knowledge of the film, they would think that it was written for a dramatic action film that takes place in an exotic locale.  The listener would have no inkling that this score was created for a comedy about a group of misfit actors who are duped into believing that they are filming a Vietnam-era action film in a completely control movie set environment.  I loved the guitar riffs…actually, I found the entire soundtrack to be enjoyable as a stand alone composition.

            The Tropic Thunder Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features music by various artists including The Crystal Method, The Temptations, MC Hammer, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, Dan Hill, Enigma and more.  It all begins with a cool mix from The Crystal Method which incorporates dialogue from the movie, dance tracks and rap.  I’ve never known The Crystal Method to create a crappy tune and The Name of the Game is great fun.  I got quite a few chuckles from the snippets of dialogue and how they were arranged in the song.  My head was already bopping along to the rhythm and this was only the first track of the album!  Since the actors in the movie were filming a Vietnam War Era film, the soundtrack contains quite a few songs from that era.  Being a fan of the Vietnam War Era music, I was very pleased to find Run Through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival, I Just Want to Celebrate by The Mooney Suzuki, The Pusher from Steppenwolf, Frankenstein (a psychedelic music extravaganza) from The Edgar Winter Group and War by Edwin Star.  These songs truly took me back to my youth and I couldn’t help but sing along.  Neither could my co-workers when I brought the soundtrack to work with me.  Ball of Confusion by The Temptations is yet another Vietnam War Era song found on the Tropic Thunder Soundtrack.  I had never heard this particular Temptations song, but I instantly fell in love with the lyrics that clearly defined the emotions and actions during this time period.

            The way the powers that be mixed this soundtrack makes for a truly fun experience.  Interspersed between the Vietnam War Era songs were songs from the eighties, nineties and today.  I knew most of the songs and was thrilled to be singing and humming along to Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill, Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer and Sadeness, Pt.1 by Enigma.  And I couldn’t help but start laughing when Movin’ On Up by Ja’Net Dubois began – who from my era doesn’t remember the theme of the hit television series The Jeffersons

            The Tropic Thunder Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is an immensely fun soundtrack filled with terrific song selections that will have you singing and dancing along.  My only complaint would be with the last song on the soundtrack.  The entire song is rather offensive, including the title for that matter, and had no real reason for being included in the soundtrack at all.  It just doesn’t seem to fit.

            Thus, my Tropic Thunder music experience is complete and I have to recommend both albums to the masses.  The Original Motion Picture Score is great for lovers of the action film music genre.  The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is, simply put, a rocking good time had by all.  Check out these two Tropic Thunder albums today! 


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