The Once Over: Tropic Thunder

Filed under: , by: Grundy the Man

A couple of weeks ago, I was in town visiting my parents, when someone suggested that we go see a movie. That seemed like a good idea, so off we go to the nearest theater. After looking over the movie listings, it was decided that Tropic Thunder would be good film. Mind you, this was being attended by myself, my wife, my mother, father and fourteen year old brother. Awkwardness ensued.

The movie starts with a series of fake trailers, that shows past roles of all of the movie's fake actors. It is a bad reflection on trailer's nowadays when I can hear my mother behind me, asking when those movies were coming out... If nothing else, this provided enough back story to establish all of the film's characters.

The concept of the film is simple. Three actors of varying levels of success and a rapper, join forces to make the best war film ever. Robert Downey Jr. has been generating major buzz, as he plays the role of an Australian actor, that underwent a skin pigmentation procedure, in order to fully embody the role of an African American. As one would imagine, egos clash from the very beginning of filming.

Frustrated with the lack of focus and structure, the director decides to take a different approach to the film. His plan is to drop the actors into the middle of the jungle with only a script. The jungle would be wired with cameras and explosives, allowing the director to film everything gorilla style. Placing the actors in an unfamiliar environment is meant bring out real fear in their performances, especially when caught off guard.

That is all you will get on the plot, because I hate spoilers. Instead, let's look at the performances of each of the title characters. Robert Downey Jr. provides an outstanding performance as an actor that has played so many characters, that he doesn't know who he is anymore. The fact that he takes himself so seriously throughout the mock filming, adds further authenticity to his role as the straight guy.

On the flip side of that, Jack Black plays a character that rose to fame through his unique talent to fart on command. His character had gained notoriety through lowbrow films in the same vein as Dumb and Dumber. He has decided that he wants to grow as an actor and take on a more serious role, but he first needs to confront his personal demons. Of the three main actors, Black plays the most minor and forgettable role.

Ben Stiller was not only the lead actor of the film, he also penned the script and acted as director. It becomes very obvious that his character was written as a vehicle for living out a childhood dream of being an action film badass. He steps up to the plate as a naive actor, trying to get his career back on track. All that he is looking for is mainstream acceptance, but his inability to cry, derails this efforts.

The film was a very funny send-up on modern action films, featuring countless cameos from Stiller's buddies. Among the most notable appearances include Matthew Mcconaughey, Nick Nolte and Tom Cruise. In a twist that few saw coming, Cruise steals the show with his performance as a no nonsense film executive, with a penchant for rap music.

Overall, there is an air of satire that tends to get in the way of story progression. It is almost as if the humorous scenes were written separately from the rest of the story, then like a demented game of connect the dots, badly fashioned into this horrible monstrosity of a plot.

Bottom line is that Tropic Thunder is a collection of tremendously hilarious scenes that are connected by a convoluted and downright aggravating storyline. Due to the apparent lack of structure and planning, there is no consistent flow to the plot. As a result, the conclusion of the film seemed very rushed and inconclusive. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone, unless you are looking a mindless exercise for your funny bone.

In the funniest scene of the entire film, I learned that when acting, "You never go full retard." Check out the clip below: