Tropic Thunder

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            When I first received the soundtrack and musical score for this comedy, I was impressed.  It had been a long time since a comedy had produced such great albums.  With all the thought put into what music should accompany the scenes in the film, I imagined a great deal of thought had cone into the movie’s script and production.  Unfortunately, I was never able to catch Tropic Thunder in the movie theaters and so it was off to the video rental shop to find out if I was right about this film.

            The comedy begins in the first few seconds of the film with a series of mock movie trailers and commercials featuring the main characters of the film in previous works.  This offers viewers a peek into the background of each character - an action hero who has been in one too many sequels (Ben Stiller), a hip-hop chick magnet whose energy drink/bar business needs a boost (Brandon T. Jackson), a comedy film star with no serious drama background and a serious drug habit (Jack Black), a rookie actor looking for his big break (Jay Baruchel) and a dramatic actor who over-immerses himself in each role he takes on (Robert Downey, Jr.).

            We learn that each of these actors has been offered a role in Tropic Thunder, a movie based on a memoir about a Vietnam POW rescue mission.  The author of the book, John “Four Leaf” Tayback (Nick Nolte) is on set as a consultant.  The movie’s director (Steve Coogan) is a rookie with no idea about how to control his spoiled prima donna cast.  In desperation, the director, consultant and pyrotechnics expert hatch a plan - send the cast into the jungle and have the war come to them.  Concealed cameras will provide the footage and demolitions set off in random locations and at random times will put the actors on edge, offering up a more realistic response to the surroundings.  Less acting and more re-acting could make for a better film.

            Unfortunately, the actors are accidentally dropped into an area surrounding the poppy fields of a successful drug ring whose leader is not very receptive to unwelcome visitors.  The actors soon discover that they are no longer acting out scenes from a movie - this is the real deal.  Can our heroes survive long enough for a successful extraction or will this movie end in tragedy?

            From beginning to end, Tropic Thunder is absolutely hysterical.  I couldn’t stop laughing from the mock trailers to the final scenes of the film.  Each actor was perfectly chosen for his role.  The media is saying that a barely recognizable Tom Cruise steals the show as Les Grossman, the angry and arrogant studio executive producer of Tropic Thunder.  I agree, Tom Cruise performed well considering that he is considered more of a dramatic actor these days, but in my opinion the real scene stealer is Robert Downey, Jr.  The lengths his character goes through to become the role of African American Sergeant Lincoln Osiris provide for some very entertaining moments.

            This movie takes on everyone and everything, finding humor in the least likely of situations.  Of course, there are quite a few off-color jokes that might be a bit politically incorrect in nature  If you are one of those people who are quick to be insulted by such humor, Tropic Thunder is not the movie for you and you should probably go catch a Disney film.  But, if you are one of those people who realize that humor is not always geared toward insulting others, but designed to make people see how ridiculous stereotyping can be, you’re gonna love this film.

            The visuals and soundtrack of this film blend in perfectly and the beauty of the movie set, based in Hawaii, is incredible.  The casting was simply perfect and the script hilarious.  Ben Stiller is an excellent director and it’s no surprise that the film and its actors received so many accolades both in ticket sales and in award nominations.

            Tropic Thunder is not for the serious minded or the sensitive.  This movie is for someone who wants some simpleminded hysterical comedy as a cheerful end to a lousy work week.  My assessment of this film was correct and I am extremely happy I had the opportunity to witness this for myself.  Tropic Thunder is a laughter-fest from beginning to end.


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