Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Friday, August 15, 2008

Don't listen to the retards:
Go see 'Tropic Thunder'

Tropic Thunder (2008)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Danny McBride, Nick Nolte, Brandon Soo Hoo, Tom Cruise, and Matthew McConaughey
Director: Ben Stiller
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Five actors (Baruchel, Black, Downey, Jackson and Stiller) starring in a movie about an extraction mission in the Viet Nam war find themselves in a very real fight for their lives against Laotian heroin producers after the director decides to drop them in the middle of the jungle to bring more realism to the film.

"Tropic Thunder" is a satire-filled spoof on the Hollywood movie industry and the excesses and escessively large personalities involved with making movies. It's a film that leaves no pretension unpoked and no movie-industry stereotype unmolested.

The stars of 'Tropic Thunder'--Kevin Sandusky, left, Alpa Chino, Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus and Jeff Portnoy--with director Damien Cockburn. (Actually, it's Jay Baruchel, left, Brandon T. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black, as actors playing actors, and actor Steve Coogan playing a director who are making a movie named 'Tropic Thunder' in 'Tropic Thunder'.)

Although it's as self-absorbed as the pampered movie stars it pokes fun at, this is a very enjoyable film if you have any interest in the personalities behind the characters and the business people behind the movies. It's even funnier if you've had a chance to see some of these people in action. While none are as cartoonish as what we have here in this comedy, the character types are all very recognizable, as is the pseudo-intellectual idiocy that's popular in many acting and movie circles.

The running theme in the film that no-one in Hollywood is genuine and that the biggest fakes, liars and cheats are the most successful is expressed with more accuracy and humor in this film than I've seen in a long time. Every character is part-and-parcel with this message--the smartest and most capable character in the bunch is a young actor who is obviously going to have a future never rising above the status of supporting character actor, and the most successful among them is such a mess of insecurities and self-deception that he doesn't even really know who he is anymore--and the story emphasizes it over and over in ways that are both funny and subtle enough that we never feel like it's being rammed down our throats.

There's nothing that we haven't seen done before, but it's all done exceptionally well here.

Every actor in the film is spectacular, from child actor Brandon Soo Hoo who plays an underage drug kingpin whose a crack shot with a bazooka (the kid does a great job, especially considering this is his first movie--to Tom Cruise who has a great turn under heavy make-up as a truly repulsive Hollywood studio executive. It can also truly be said that 2008 is the year of Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., as between "Iron Man", "Kung Fu Panda", and this film, they've appeared in some high quality movies.

And just so there's no doubt, anyone who is upset about the use of the word "retard" in this film is an idiot who is just looking to be offended. If they hadn't been so busy taking offense, they would have seen that the point of the exchange was that exploiting the handicapped in movies is sleazy and cheap... and that one of the characters in the conversation was being at least partially sarcastic.

Now that I've seen "Tropic Thunder", I believe doubly what I said in this post, but I need to add that I think those assholes who are exploiting retards to grab headlines with their faux and misplaced outrage are even slimier than the fictional characters involved with the fictional "Simple Jack" movie.

Oh, and if anyone out there knows an asshole or a retard calling for a boycott of "Tropc Thunder", please tell them that I went to see it on opening day because of them, and I further supported the theater by purchasing a small popcorn and small soda. I probably would have waited until the movie was on DVD and I hardly ever buy snacks when attending a film. I also have used the word "retard" as a pejorative more in the past three days than I have in the three years previously. It's not a word I typically use, but those assholes have made it an imperative to do so with your idiocy.

I encourage everyone to go see "Tropic Thunder". Bring a friend. Let's show how retarded this call for a boycott was. And make sure you get there early, not only so you can get some popcorn, but you also don't want to miss the exclusive preview for the upcoming Kirk Lazarus/Tobey Maguire movie "Satan's Alley"!

(BTW, with a rumored $150 million dollar price-tag, I think this movie is ultimately will be declared a failure because I doubt it'll make THAT kind of money... but let's see if we can't show those publicity hungry assholes who are making up reasons to be offended that a funny, well-made film will have an audience despite their antics (and even the antics of the Very Special Differently Abled People they're using as props).

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