Tropic Thunder (2008) – Film Review

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Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Robert Downey, Jack Black, Ben Stiller
Certificate: 15

by Matt Callard

A troop of vain, fake-macho actors are dropped in a real war zone with, yes! – hilarious results.

Tropic Thunder has a simple, if not entirely original, premise. The war movie genre is so chokka with satirical possibilities, you can’t help but start making up your own jokes as the film unwinds.

Stiller chooses to aim his gun at the delusional narcissism of Hollywood. Robert Downey, in an unforgettable role as Kirk Lazarus, is an obsessive Australian actor who is so devoted to his craft he’s undergone a skin darkening procedure. Worse, he now attempts to use black urban speak throughout the entire movie with not a drip of irony. Jack Black shows unusual restraint as one dimensional fat funnyman Jeff Portnoy.

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“Tom Cruise attempts to demolish his own colossal ego”

But the biggest laughs come when spectacularly insecure Tug Speedman (Stiller) is imprisoned in a jungle prison by drug lords. Who then force him to ‘act’ for his survival. The tears he cries are the only sincere ones that have ever dripped from his pampered cheeks. Plus, Tom Cruise attempts to demolish his own colossal ego with a barnstorming turn as a fat, bald movie executive – honest!

Like The Player, there’s something uncomfortable about the Hollywood A-list satirising Hollywood. But such cynicism is easily left behind when there are as many laughs available as there are here.


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