Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder

(2008)

Comedy about a group of pompous actors making the most expensive Vietnam war movie ever made. The 'cast' includes an action star (Ben Stiller), a comedian (Jack Black), an Australian Oscar-winner (Robert Downey Jr.) and a rapper-turned-actor (Brandon T. Jackson). Fed up with his self-involved cast, the film's director (Steve Coogan) drops them into the jungle to take care of themselves, where they get caught up in a conflict they don't realise is real. The cast also includes Nick Nolte and cameos from Tom Cruise and Tobey Maguire.... More

Downey Jr's character is an Oscar-winner who takes on a role originally written for a black actor. Rather than re-write the part, he dyes his skin black. Downey Jr says, "If it's done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago. If you don't do it right, we're going to hell."

This film is Stiller's first as director since Zoolander, and could upset a lot of sensitive people (Stiller's character adopts an Asian baby but worries "that all the good ones have gone"). Apparently he got the idea over twenty years ago while shooting Empire of the Sun.Hide

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Flicks Review

From the genius fake trailers at the start to Tom Cruise's end titles dance routine (no, really), Tropic Thunder is one hell of a night at the movies.

Since Zoolander, Ben Stiller's last directorial effort, the Judd Apatow set has hit big, blending laughs and pathos, and you can tell that Stiller has upped his game as a result. Not only is Tropic Thunder cheek-aching funny, it's also satirical, cleverly plotted, thrilling in places and has a real beating heart. As stupid as its main characters may be, by the end you actually do care whether they make it.

Stiller's Tugg Speedman is the anchor point - Apocalypse Now's Colonel Kurtz in 'dumb action star' form. Meanwhile, Black gets to mock himself, Stiller and every other overpaid Hollywood screwball as drug-hoover Jeff Portnoy, star of The Fatties, a fart-based movie series in which he plays all the characters (sound familiar, Eddie Murphy?).

But it's Downey Jr., as method actor Kirk Lazarus, who makes the film. Every time he speaks, every noise he makes, hell, every time his pigment-altered face appears, it's a riot, walking a satirical line between ignorantly racist and innocently insecure to perfection. Steve Coogan’s part in the film is all too brief, but his exit is the funniest moment you’ll see on film this year and it's Downey Jr.'s deadpan confusion that really makes it.

Throw in Tom Cruise shrieking: "Now take a step back, and fuck your own face!" as hairy-armed R&B-loving studio exec Les Grossman and you've got an ensemble to die for, in a film that makes the most of it. Tropic Thunder could easily have been a crass spoof, or a disjointed skit-based affair. It isn't – it works, and you'll be quoting it for months.



The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 6 ratings, 6 reviews
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The movie started at 8.15 and we lasted till 9pm before leaving. A shame with this cast that they couldn't pull it off tho Robert downey Jnr was an excellent black man! Glad we had discounted tickets and didn't pay $15 each for this lack lustre movie.


I didn't get much out of this - the jokes just weren't funny. Flat, dry stale old bit of bread. Stiller peaked with the brilliant, and highly underrated CABLE GUY... ZOOLANDER also was enjoyable, but this is his worst.


Lots of good bits but didn't live up to the hype. A fun night out but Stiller basically does his usual thing and Jack Black is not as good as he usually is. Downey Jr is what makes this movie rise above mediocre - having proved he is back in a big way with Iron Man, this movie showcases his comedic chops to great effect.


It was ok, but not a blockbuster by any stretch.
Again another hollywood rip off that could have been funny. A few funny moments, but mostly average.


I enjoyed the look of this film. Big orange fireballs against the green jungle, etc. I liked the characters and the Vietnam imagery (even if the musical choices were a bit predictable). But unfortunately, I didn't find it particularly funny. I probably laughed more in No Country For Old Men, to be blunt. There are moments of tedium in Tropic Thunder, and the film drags. Despite a promising beginning, this film didn't live up to the hype.


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The Press Reviews

83% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • When it's all over, you'll probably have the fondest memories of Robert Downey Jr.'s work. It's been a good year for him, this one coming after "Iron Man." He's back, big time. Full Review

  • To top everything off, Tom Cruise may just have resurrected his career with the role of Les Grossman. Full Review

  • Stiller manages his movie nicely so that all actors get their share of the comic spotlight. Seldom does an ensemble comedy not contain a single weak character or performance as does this one. Full Review

  • A flashy, nasty, on-and-off funny and assaultive sendup of the film industry. Full Review

  • Tropic Thunder is a relatively smart and refreshingly politically incorrect satire, and there is a lot to like as it takes the mickey out of Hollywood's twisted priorities, fart jokes, action films, dummed-down scripts and unrealistic plot lines, overly pampered actors and money-hungry studios. Of course, it falls victim to most of this itself, but at least you'll get a laugh out of it. Full Review

  • It's been done before, but it hasn't been done this well for years. Tropic Thunder might just be the last behind-the-scenes-on-a-movie movie that anyone needs to make for a long time to come. Full Review