Tropic Thunder

Title: “Tropic Thunder”

Year: 2008

Run Time: 106 mins

Genre:  Comedy

Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Danny McBride, Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte

Director: Ben Stiller

Plot: You’ve been shot down behind enemy lines! You’re being held hostage as a P.O.W. by extremely hostile enemies! So who in the world can you depend on to pull you out of this dangerous and bloody scenario? Well whoever it is, pray that it’s not Tugg Speedman and his company of misfits.

The world is witnessing three of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), and Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) being gathered together to shoot what is supposed to be the biggest and greatest Vietnam war film in history called “Tropic Thunder”. Unfortunately when you have three stars in the same vicinity, with egos the size of Jupiter, it’s going to be a recipe for disaster. In a scene being shot for the movie, involving Tugg Speedman and Kirk Lazarus, they provide the spark for the domino effect that will seemingly destroy this film. As Tugg and Kirk struggle to successfully wrap up a tear jerking scene between a dying commander and his best combat buddie, Tugg can’t seem to bring himself to cry, resulting in the ruining of the shoot. Kirk is totally disgusted with Tugg’s inabilities and proceeds to walk off the set, with Tugg following in his footsteps. Realizing that his film is crumbling before his eyes, director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) knows that he better gain control of his stars before the project financier tycoon Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) gets wind of this. Oops to late! In the famous words of Les, “You know how you handle an actor if they whine about anything? You pull down their pants…and you spank that ass! As Les lets Cockburn feel his wrath, via satellite, Sgt. Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), the writer of the book Tropic Thunder that the movie is based on, gives his own opinion of what he believes needs to be done in order for this movie to have any chance of survival.  On the brink of being chewed up and spit out of Les Groosman’s mouth, Cockburn takes Sgt. Four Leafs advice and unknowingly transports all of his pre-madonna actors to the actual hostile jungles of real enemy bush. As the actors exit the helicopter, Cockburn lays out the scenarios that the actors are going to be subjected to. He gives each of them a script to follow and informs them that there are cameras set up throughout the jungle in order to capture all of their exciting footage. After wards, Cockburn says his goodbyes and makes a sudden unfortunate exit. BOOM!!! He is blown to smithereens! Immediately after wards a platoon of angry hostiles engage the unsuspecting actors in a fierce gun battle. Thinking that his director’s death, as well as the gun happy enemies, are part of an elaborate special effects scene, Tugg Speedman urges his fake platoon to rage into battle. They manage to somehow scare off the combatants and raise their guns in victory. As the already inflated egos ban together to give, what they think is, the best acting performances of their lives, they don’t realize that this is for real, and are about to be in for the fight of their lives!

Ben Stiller, with this film, has really come unto his own. To let everyone know, I haven’t always been the biggest of Ben Stiller fan. So for me to give him this type of compliment really means something. And when I say, “come unto his own” I mean that he has truly established himself as a brilliant comedic director. There wasn’t a time in the movie that I didn’t find myself laughing hysterically. This is due to the fact that Ben Stiller is a genius when it comes time to capturing a seemingly serious moment and transforming it into a controversial hysterical moment right before your eyes. Take for example the scene when Sgt. Four Leaf interrupts Les Grossman’s tongue lashing of Damien Cockburn. Four Leaf gives a very emotional and serious account of what he went through during his time of battle. In reaction, Les gives what seems to be a sincere reply to his words. “Oh, you’re a great American. This nation owes you a huge debt…Now shut the F@#$ up and let me do my job!” That is genius when it comes to comedy. It’s all about the timing. And believe me, there are many more moments like this throughout this movie, which are going to cause you to have a sore stomach from laughing so hard. Thank God for Ben Stiller’s genius!

The plot states that the movie “Tropic Thunder” gathers the three greatest stars of our time together for one blockbuster movie. Not only does this hold to be true for the movies plot, but it also holds to be true for the actual movie. Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., and Jack Black combine for one the most hilarious, controversial, and unexpected casts to grace us on the screen to deliver for us truly memorable and masterful comedic performances. But the true hidden gem to this comedic masterpiece, is how Ben Stiller, the director, incorporates Tom Cruise into the picture. Cruise brought an extra dimension to this film that makes it possible for this movie to truly go over the top. Tom Cruise is Les Grossman. Les Grossman is Tom Cruise. Without either of them, this movie might not have been the comedic perfection that I believe it to be.

The Obvious: I think we all know that this movie is obviously a tremendous piece of comedic genius put out by Ben Stiller.

The Not So Obvious: My stomach is still sore from laughing so hard from watching this movie.

The Final Cut: Ben Stiller has brought to the screen a wicked and controversial comedy. But make no mistakes, this is truly a phenomenal film. He uses perfect timing and perfect acting in order to deliver a comedic masterpiece. Now I admit that this movie isn’t for everyone, especially children, but for those of you that can take a joke and watch this with an open mind, you will witness one of the best comedies of all time.

2 thoughts on “Tropic Thunder”

  1. Why are you giving away key plot points and twists? That is a definate no no when writing movie reviews. Besides that, good review but too much focus on plot. Also, for another perspective, consider that the movie is a rather tongue-in-cheek parody of Apocalypse Now, which I think makes it enjoyable on an entirely different level.

  2. GSP, I want to thank you for the comment that you left me. And you are right, I definitely focused to much on the plot and gave to much of the story away. I really appreciate you telling me this because without your input I might of kept on doing the same mistake over and over again. Also, thank you for your compliment. It means a lot to me. It’s because of comments like yours that will help me home in on my critic writing skills in order to become the best critic that I can be. Before I go, I have to compliment you on sharing with me the perspective of the parody of Apocalypse Now. That is definitely a perspective I didn’t think about and that is an awesome way to look at this film in order to enjoy it on a different level. I look forward to reading your reviews and hearing from you again. Thanks again.

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