I just got back from Tropic Thunder about 10 minutes ago and I’m honestly still laughing my ass off. This movie may singlehandedly resurrect the careers of four of Hollywood’s biggest actors. On the Popcorn Knights scale, I give it a 0/13. It was better than I ever could have imagined and infinitely better than Step Brothers, to which I prematurely handed the “Movie of the Summer” crown. I’ll discuss this movie more, along with Pineapple Express on this week’s podcast, but for now you’ll have to read it here.
***Hundreds, possibly thousands, of spoilers ahead!***
For those that don’t know, the premise of the movie is a pretty god damned good one. The trailers would lead you to believe that it’s about three actors – Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) who get caught up in some real life trouble while making a Vietnam movie. WRONG!
It’s about FIVE actors who get caught up in some real life trouble while making a Vietnam movie. The other two actors are Brandon T Jackson as Alpa Chino (tell me that’s not hysterical in and of itself), and Jay Baruchel as Kevin Sandusky (not quite as hysterical).
Possibly one of the funniest and well executed parts of the movie is the beginning. It starts very abruptly with a commercial for Alpa Chino’s Booty Sweat and Bust a Nut bars followed by three trailers – one for Speedman, one for Portnoy, one for Lazarus. Each one is just a scathing parody of some relatively recent movie or star. This instantly sets up each character – Tugg is the idiot action star, Portnoy is the idiot comdy star, and Kirk is the idiot method actor.
I guess the best way to pick apart this movie without giving you a summary is to note how each major role is defined.
Ben Stiller hasn’t starred in a truly funny or original movie probably since Zoolander. Let me say the dry spell is most certainly over. Sure, I liked him in Dodgeball, but let’s face it – that character was recycled from Heavyweights. He’s finally left the “quirky nervous ass” character behind and got himself a new, if not terribly original, gimmick as a tough guy. What really makes this movie different for him is that it actually pushes some boundaries. Tugg Speedman’s previous movie “Simple Jack” was his stab at serious drama a’la “Forrest Gump”. It is rude and horribly offensive – two things he just hasn’t even tried to pull in recent years. Bravo, Ben, bravo.
Now on to Jack Black. I actually sat through “The Holiday” and I thought I would never be able to forgive this man. After squandering any funny credit he had by being half of Tenacious D by participating in such travesties as “Kung Fu Panda” and even “School of Rock”, it’s really refreshing to see him play a heroin addict who’s in the process of kicking after his smack is stolen by a bat in the jungle. (I’m not sure if that sentence makes complete sense, so go back and read it a few times for clarity).
Robert Downey Jr. has the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve possibly ever seen. How did I not notice this before? He plays a much more central roll as Kirk Lazarus than I originally assumed he would. It’s pretty much exactly what you would expect. Except it’s way fucking funnier than you could imagine.
I just looked to the right side of my monitor and realized the word count is approaching 600. I’m sure no one wants to read much more of this anyway. So let me just say that I don’t care what a jackass he might be, TOM MOTHERFUCKING CRUISE is OK in my book from now on.