Tropic Thunder Review

19 Aug

I saw this movie on Saturday night at The Loop but due to work kicking my butt (stupid presidential nominees) I just hadn’t had time to write my review. Trust me though, it was worth the wait! Without further delay, here is my review of Tropic Thunder:

Tropic Thunder is a movie about the making of a movie based on a book about Vietnam starring the biggest stars in Hollywood today. From the very beginning of this movie you can see that the writer/director/producer/star, Ben Stiller, is making fun of Hollywood. The movie reminds me of “Waiting…” in the fact that when you see things that are so outrageous they are funny, yet if you’ve worked in the industry, you know how close to reality it actually is. This is Stiller’s first directing job since “Zoolander” and I believe was much better than “Zoolander.”

I’ll stop here and point out that Tropic Thunder is rated “R” for a reason. This is NOT a movie for your 9 year old because they liked “Iron Man” and “School of Rock.” If you have a young child, just say no! It’s up to you to decide what your children are exposed to!

The movie starts out with trailers (yes, after the real trailers). There is a music video and then three “fake” trailers which introduce the main stars in “Tropic Thunder” and gives you a glimpse into the type of actor they are. Each trailer even has a green screen “MPAA Rating” and a different studios logo (just like real trailers). Each of the trailers is a direct parody of a common Hollywood movie. First we see a “music video” by Alpa Chino (say that out loud – Brandon T. Jackson) who is rapping in a hoodie with a gold and diamond “grill” with sweaty half naked women pimping his energy drink “Booty Sweat” and his energy bar “Bust-A-Nut.” Get it?

This video is so outrageously unexpected in its raunchiness and sexual innuendo that you’ll want to fall out of your chair almost immediately. If you don’t mind some spoilers you can go watch the music video HERE (NOTE: The name of the song is “I love da Pussy” so it is definitely NSFW!).

The first of the trailers is for Tugg Speedman’s (Ben Stiller) “Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown.” A disaster action movie  where we see that for the sixth time only one man can save the planet. The first five times the Earth is shown as being covered in lava and fire, but for “Global Meltdown” the whole planet is frozen.

The second trailer is for Jeff Portnoy’s (Jack Black) new movie “The Fatties: Fart 2” which is a DIRECT rip on Eddie Murphy and his Nutty Professor movies. The trailer basically breaks down into one giant fart joke with Portnoy playing all of the characters in fat suits around a table.

The final trailer is for Kirk Lazarus’s (Robert Downy Jr.) “Satan’s Alley,” which is like a “Brokeback Mountain” spoof with two men monks. It shows the two men rubbing each others rosaries and the trailer even says the costar in the movie is “MTV’s Best Kiss Winner: Tobey Maguire” (yes, one of MANY cameos in the movie).

These set the tone for the main characters in the movie and lets the audience know that there will be no holds barred in this movie. The actual movie revolves around the making a billion dollar budget Vietnam era movie. After an attempt to film a huge war scene complete with pyro and helicopters you see a news report that the movie is only 5 days into filming and already a month behind schedule.

In an attempt to get the “actors” to act more naturally the director drops them off in the middle of the jungle and sets it up with cameras and explosions. The “plan” is to just scare them into how the actual characters would have felt. After a mistaken step onto a landmine though, everything changes.

The actors end up getting into a fire fight with REAL bad guys in the middle of poppy fields. Somehow the good guys win, even though they are shooting blanks with their Hollywood guns!

As is shown in the trailers Tugg Speedman gets captured and the others have to use their “acting” ability to storm the compound and save him.

Jack Black has a few amazing scenes when he is playing his character in withdrawal (a bird took his jelly bean bag filled with cocaine). Seeing Jack Black stripped down to his underwear and taped to a tree is classic!

Cody Keith Underwood (Danny R. McBride) is the pyro technician on set who LOVES large explosions. He is hilarious, much like he was in a supporting role in “Pineapple Express.” He got his start in pyro on the set of “Driving Miss Daisy.” (I’m not making that up, its a line in the movie) According to his bio he was born Cody-Keith-Cash-Patsy-Hank-Willie-Underwood. CAMEO SPOILER COMING!

It’s not much of a secret but Tom Cruise is in the movie as Les Goldberg, the large producer of “Tropic Thunder.” This is by far the best acting I’ve ever seen Tom Cruise do. The first time you see him, you may not recognize him. The jerk in our theater decided to yell to the crowd “That’s Tom Cruise. We all knew Tom Cruise was gay” he really thought he was funny. We were laughing at him because Tom had already been in the movie twice before this retard figured it out. Along with Cruise’s character was his under appreciated butt kissing assistant Rob Slalom (Bill Hader). AGAIN, Hader is so great in this limited role!

Speaking of retards, as you may have heard the movie had a spoof website for a movie called “Simple Jack” that they had to pull due to protests. Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) plays the retarded Jack (and Stiller got his wife a short cameo). This role leads to one of the funniest scenes in the movie:

Lazerus (who is black at this time) was telling Speedman how he was impressed by the balls Speedman showed in his portrayal of “Simple Jack.” Lazerus says “You went full retard. Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, dumb? Yes, but he played football and got the girl. Not full retard” …”Just ask Sean Penn, you go full retard you go home empty handed.” And later when he sees Speedman portraying Jack for his captors he comments “See, he toned down the retard and now hes more accessible to the audience.”

There are huge explosions and some great action scenes (albeit unbelievable) and many many more cameos in the movie. I won’t give away everything because I want you to go see this movie.

I am a HUGE Jack Black fan, but for the most part his “main stream” movies have toned him down a bit. I think his outrageous antics were perfect and allowed him to push the envelope in this “R” rated film. All of the characters, while outrageous, are very well balanced by each other and really make this film a classic.

I give this movie 4.25 out of 5. SO GO SEE IT!!!!

If you want to see more videos from this movie/about this movie check out these sites:

  1. RainofMadness.com – A documentary about the making of Tropic Thunder
  2. JeffPortnoy.com – Jeff Portnoy’s official site
  3. CodyEffects.com – Cody Keith Underwoods official site
  4. Alpa-Chino.com – Alpa Chino’s official site
  5. Combatobooks.com – Publisher of the book “Tropic Thunder”
  6. KirkLazarus.com – Kirk Lazarus’s official site
  7. TuggSpeedman.com – Tugg Speedman’s official site
  8. Rain of Madness’s official trailer.
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