Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tropic Thunder Review

I can't rip Hollywood nearly half as well as Hollywood can rip itself. As many references as I make to "obnoxious, appaling, deathwank" or "enjoying snuff movies of my family more than their output" it'll never be as biting as say The Player or Swimming With Sharks. Which is why I was looking forward to Ben Stillers latest with a degree of enthusiasm usually reserved for an episode of The Wire or Christmas DinDins with the family. Well, the biting satire and the black Robert Downey Jr.

When the filming of a huge budgeted war movie looks like losing its way due to the actors bad temperament, british director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) sends his actors into the jungle. While there, the actors, including beyond his best years action star Tug Speedman (Ben Stiller), method man Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr) and flatulence comedy king Jeff Portney (Jack Black) stumble across some real life villains. Using only there Rada training to help them the boys must survive the real horror of war. By farting and playing spastics.

Tropic Thunder opens with 5 minutes of the funniest cinema of the year. 2 fake adverts and 3 fake trailers that looks set to pave the way for something inventive, clever and even boundary pushing. What follows is the same jokes repeated ad naeseum for nearly 2 hours. The main flaw is in the under-development of the characters. Stiller is just Zoolander as an actor, Black is Chris Farley or John Belushi (i.e. the person Jack would have become if we didn't live in a post modern age) which leaves Kirk as the only interesting character. And as much as Bob Jr. plays the 'not Russell Crowe' thesp superbly he's not given nearly enough screen time to help the audience get over the fact that 'hey, that Downey is playing a black guy!'.

A lenghty speech about the dangers of playing a 'full retard' is a much needed highpoint and Tom Cruises potty mouthed 'not Paramount boss' is a chuckle to begin with but once the credits roll the film resorts to said actor dancing in a moronic fashion for 5 minutes. Finally its the scene where the actors convince Tug to join them in their journey home because his shit movies changed their lives that you realise Josie and The Pussycats was more satirical. If The Player was Hollwood kicking seven shades of shit out of itself, Tropic Thunder is a really lame self inflected wedgie.

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