Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Tropic Thunder

Personally, I do not understand why some critics are giving this film bad reviews. Is it maybe the fact that in parts it is an ultraviolent, foul-mouthed war/comedy film, which portrays the horrors of war in a way that is, not so horrifying? Is it the fact that Robert Downey Jr. becomes the first actor in years to get blackfaced for a role? Or is it the fact that Ben Stiller's character portrays Simple Jack, a mentally retarded man, in a way in which some people (aka The Disability Advocacy Society) interpreted as offensive? Seriously, I could continue the rest of the review like this, because it is a very obscene, ultraviolent comedy that does all of the above and more. However, controversy isn't always a bad thing. I mean, didn't Eric Bischoff say that "controversy creates cash." Look at Borat for example. This, undoubtedly the most controversial comedy since the now comedy classic, will be sure to follow suit. Basic outline, three actors, Tugg Speedman, the action star, Jeff Portnoy, the comedian and Kirk Lazarus, the method actor, all play their part in what is to be the biggest war movie ever, Tropic Thunder. However, things go amuck, and we then later on see the protagonists involved in a real battle with some real bad heroin-producing baddies with lots of guns and blah, blah, blah. Now, like In Bruges earlier on in the year, it is indeed a huge mess of a film. In this case however, the insanity that seethes from the script seems to work. It is all big explosions, ridiculous deaths and various other miscrepencies. The script in this film is superb, filling with many memorable quotes that you'd expect from those involved, and also being aware enough of their topic, which is essentially taking the mick out of Hollywood, and thus being a satire, taking things to all new extreme heights of exaggeration and ridiculous proportions. Also, I must also point out a number of great performances in this film, three in particular. Jack Black as Jeff Portnoy, the drug-addled comedian, is frankly hilarious in his portrayal of a man who clearly is out of his element and whose addictions produce a number of humorous moments throughout the film. In his element however, is Kirk Lazarus, played by Robert Downey Jr. An excellent portrayal by Downey Jr. which alongside The Joker by Heath Ledger, is the best supporting role of the year so far. It's a shame the Academy would never acknowledge a role of this stature. He steals the show from Stiller and Black, the two comedy heavyweights, with a role as the Method actor who goes to new extremes to meet his requirements to perform a role which is amazingly close to the bone regarding certain actors. Downey Jr., in one of five films he is in this year, will be surely one of the main actors to look out for, being one of the hardest working talents in Hollywood today. Finally, Tom Cruise too, with the little time he has onscreen, creates a monumental portrayal of the short-tempered and foul-mouthed producer, Les Grossman. Personally, with all of these great roles, Ben Stiller has been outshined in his own film. Granted, he has certainly done a great job in directing this film, showcasing his talents behind the camera as well as infront, but maybe he should have cast someone like Vince Vaughn. He would be perfect, because he has the boring monotone voice of most action stars and the stature, despite being a comedian (a bad one at that though). That is not to discredit Stiller's contributions this film, also co-writing the script as well as producing, directing and acting. This is his baby, and he has nurtured it to near perfection. Near. As a film for laughs, it is as good as it gets. However, none of these are characters you do genuinely care for. Also, the plot is fairly bog-standard, even by comedy turns. For me, what this film stands for is a mallet to the head of Hollywood, but, to compare the film to the last controversial comedy, Borat, it lacks that films emotional depth which made it stand out from the rest. In this sense, along with the bog-standard plot, I must say that this film is certainly one that should be seen with all of your friends, because you will enjoy it, I guarantee it. However, just because you enjoy a film does not make it a flawless masterpiece of work, and therefore it must be measured against this. Boasting great acting performances and a witty script which serves both for the obscenity laughs and the satire, but otherwise standard fare, see Tropic Thunder at least once in the cinema, for it is one of the few true blockbuster comedies. For example, it has the production value and looks of an action movie, but is disguised and is truly a great laugh-out loud comedy/satire which can be enjoyed at least once.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.3/10

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