Welcome back! This week we're taking a look at the suddenly controversial Tropic Thunder (which is totally my new name if I ever decide to become a Mexican league wrestler). As many of you already know, the film stars Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. as a group of variously 'talented' actors attempting to make the greatest Vietnam-era war movie of all time. That's the short version. Now here's all the nitty-gritty stuff that you all seem to like so much.

Tropic Thunder isn't a random 'here have some puns' comedy. Sure it has its fair share, but it's more than just that. The entire movie is a gigantic joke playing on the many reasons why Hollywood sucks  Dumb, over the top, whiny actors with super inflated ego's, richer than God producers who don't care about anything other than the profit margin of their films, and the insanity of how it all comes together at the worst possible times on a Hollywood set. Also, explosions.

Here's how they play it out.

Ben Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a high paid but rapidly fading action star who is desperate to be taken seriously as an actor. Unfortunately his last movie, 'Simple Jack', the story about a mentally disabled farm boy who believes he can communicate with animals (seriously, I almost feel dirty for laughing so hard at that part in the theater, but its almost impossible not to), flopped so hard that he's more of a joke to the entertainment world than a good actor. Robert Downey Jr. is Kirk Lazarus, the multiple Oscar winning Australian actor who takes all of his roles so seriously that he undergoes surgery in order to play the part of the black sergeant. Jack Black is Jeff Portnoy, the actor with a hard drug problem who is famous for his stupid comedies that all star him for every role – So Eddie Murphy, but fat and white. Along with them are Brandon T. Jackson as 'Alpa Chino', a dirty hip-hop star, and Jay Baruchel as 'Kevin', the nobody nerd soldier.

As we've all seen from the trailers, Tropic Thunder is about the previously mentioned 'actors' acting as prema donnas on the set, delaying production and wasting countless studio bills with their drama. In order to rectify the situation, the director (Steve Coogan) along with the 'real life survivor/writer of the Tropic Thunder book' (Nick Nolte) decide to ditch the actors out in the wild in order to get them truly scared, and shoot the entire film guerilla style. Unfortunately, something…'happens' to the director, and our boys become stranded out in the middle of the wilderness, eventually getting caught up in a drug lord war all the while under the assumption that they're still being filmed.


All the casting and acting works great in Tropic Thunder. Robert Downey Jr. is seriously my main squeeze of the big screen now. The man has gone from drug problems and prison to en epic comeback, and he's seriously having a great year. He plays the most realistic over the top Australian actor who imitates the actions of how a dumb white actor would portray a big screen black person (was that even English?) possible. All his head clashing with both Ben Stiller's character, as well as Brandon T. Jackson's ACTUAL black character are hilarious. Jack Black doesn't nearly get enough screen time as much as Stiller and Downey Jr. do, but he still plays his part well and does a good job making fun of Hollywood comedians who have way more problems than any normal person should have. Ben Stiller is…well, Ben Stiller. Just take a part from any of his recent movies " The Heartbreak Kid, Night at the Museum, Meet the Fockers, it's all the same really. I'm not saying he isn't funny in the movie, his character doesn't necessarily stand out the way Black, Brandon and Downey Jr. do.

I WILL however, give Stiller some credit on his directing. Yep, Ben Stiller directed Tropic Thunder.

That statement may not sit well with too many people; Stiller is one of those actors in Hollywood that people really like or find completely unfunny and overdone. The last big movie he took a shot at directing was one of my favorite bad movies to watch, Zoolander (and before that is The Cable Guy, which I feel doesn't really need to be discussed at all). However, I have to say that the man did good. Stiller directed a solid cast, worked in tons of funny moments, made it pretty as hell, and did one thing, very, VERY well in particular…
The cameos. Now normally I don't get overly excited about cameos at all…they never really add anything to movies other than just a familiar face and a badly delivered line. Tropic Thunder is different. In fact, one of them was so unexpected and so funny, it deserves its own paragraph. Seriously, this was a big surprise that the makers of the movie apparently went through great lengths to hide from the public for obvious reasons. If you don't want to hear about it and see for yourself, do not hightlight the blank area.

—-Ok so earlier I mentioned that there was a richer than God producer who didn't care about anything but money, right? Right. When that character first came on the screen, I had to do a little bit of a double take. The character playing the uber producer, Les Grossman, is none other than Tom Cruise. Let's get something straight right here " I hate Tom Cruise. Everyone does, it's really not a secret at all. I used to have a lot of respect for his acting back in the good old days before he turned into a public lunatic. It's one thing to be a scientologist when the creator openly admitted the whole religion is a bunch of BS, but to be such a public d-bag about it really rocketed Cruise into the gutter. That's why it pains me to say this…I laughed. Hard. So did everyone else. Why? Because he was hilarious. It's a small part at best, but it's literally the best acting (or appearance, or anything) I've seen from Cruise in years. In fact, it was so funny that for the remainder of the movie I was able to completely forget the fact that I hate him so much—-

Anyway, the actor who plays 'Les Grossman' the angry, money hungry producer does an excellent job portraying a Hollywood shark in a (fat)suit. There are tons of other cameos that are there specifically for certain parts of the script, especially one at the end of the movie in the award-ceremony scene, that are just excellent and gave me a good laugh.

The Bottom Line: Are you 'iffy' on Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow's style of comedy movies? Give this a try. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I can say that I laughed pretty damn hard, and would definitely consider seeing it again. I should give this movie more credit than just an alternative to Pineapple Express…it is without question a funny movie. See it and laugh.

Grade: Tropic Thunder has a good script, excellent acting from a great cast, and very clever directing from Stiller. The opening of the movie showing the 'fake' previews for movies starring the 'actors' in Tropic Thunder were specifically a great touch, and I highly approved of the level of comedy. Drawbacks? Wanted a bit more of Jack Black's character, and Ben Stiller's acting is less than special to be sure. There may be times when it drags a little, but it doesn't happen for too long. Moments like Downey Jr. telling Stiller that actors should never go 'full retard' in roles where they play mentally disabled characters do a great job promoting the theme of the movie the idiocy and insanity of Hollywood. Tropic Thunder gets a solid B.

In the immediate future I'll be seeing The Rocker with Rainn Wilson who I hope you know from The Office as Dwight Schrute, with more mvoies on the way for sure. As always, send anything to CHmoviereview@gmail.com