Directed by Ben Stiller
Tropic Thunder is the funniest movie to see release this summer – but before it even begins we’re treated with a few fake trailers that suck us into its comic universe.
The first is an ad for “Booty Sweat” energy drinks, which turns out to be the product of rapper turned actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson). This is followed by more priceless fake trailers of upcoming movies from “Tropic Thunder” stars. Tug Speedman (Stiller) who is a fading action star of the action series Scorcher and who tries to earn some respectability by playing a mentally handicap farm boy in his new drama “Simple Jack.” Than there is the vulgar drug addict movie star Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) who stars in the “The Fatties 2,” a comedy revolving solely on toilet humor much like most lowbrow Hollywood comedies in the past decade. And finally the multiple-Oscar-winning Australian actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) plays opposite to Tobey MaGuire in a forbidden-love / Gay epic as a medieval monk who tries to make the moves on Spiderman.
Tropic Thunder has not even begun yet and it’s already the funniest thing I have seen this year. Stiller, wearing many hats here as director, writer, producer and star, has somehow found a way to produce the most shocking and politically incorrect hit to come out of Hollywood in years.
The film pokes fun of Hollywood every which way possible. Everything from the greedy movie producer to the highly demanding Jerry McGuire-like casting agent to the actor who becomes so big yet he gets lost in his own skin. Stiller has created a savage attack on Hollywood, one whose jokes punch hard. It’s a film that takes you on a dark path deep into the heart of the blockbuster jungle where not everyone will make it out alive. Its forms of comedy and violence are both extreme.
If anything the film is worth seeing simply for the genius of Robert Downey Jr,. who without question is the ringleader in this all-star cast. Downey plays Kirk Lazarus, a method actor who really wants to get into his roles, so he undergoes a controversial operation to darken his skin so that he may play one of the movie’s black soldiers. His is my new found favorite performance of the year, topping that of even Heath Ledger as the Joker. Downey is a loose goose and he could just very well be the coolest black but not black man to ever hit the screen. This is surely the soon to be most talked about performance of the year and possibly his entire career.
Jack Black makes little use of his role resembling a Chris Farley–like junkie, but I will give him credit for landing the funniest moment of the film when in a parody of Saving Private Ryan. Matthew McConaughey plays the agent to Ben Stiller’s character – and he’s great with what little screen time given. Also on board with small roles is David Gordon Green’s “go-to guy” Danny McBride who plays the effects wiz, Vietnam was vet Nick Nolte and first time film director Steve Coogan. All of which are great.
However it’s the show-off cameo is by Tom Cruise that’s the scene stealer, as he plays a bald, overweight, foul-mouthed Hollywood producer. He lets his character loose and never holds back with an onslaught of profanities and even some occasionally Ludacirs-scored booty dancing. He’s the added topper on the most brutal satire of Hollywood since Robert Altman’s “The Player.”