Tropic Thunder

The Nominations:

  • Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

The Black-and-White:

A review by LadyOscar23

For me, Tropic Thunder was a momentous release. Why? Because it was a comedy that was actually funny! Yes, to paraphrase Deadwood’s Al Swearengen, it has come to this. A comedy exceeded my expectations by making me laugh. It seems to me that for the past few years comedies have relied upon nothing but moronic gender stereotypes. Women want to get married and have kids! Men want to date hot women but live in their parents’ basements! Wacky hijinks fail to ensue! I’ve barely seen a recent comedy because just watching the trailers made me suspect that, in the event my iPod batteries went dead and my books were confiscated by the TSA, spending an entire flight to Europe re-reading the safety information card would be preferable to seeing anything in the current lineup.

Anyway, to get back to Tropic Thunder, it was, in fact, really funny. I went into it having read so much hype (because I think all the movie critics were also shocked to encounter a comedy that was actually funny) that I figured I would be disappointed, but I wasn’t. In case you’ve been living in a cave (or your parents’ basement) for the last year, Tropic Thunder is the story of a group of actors making a war film who for various reasons end up in an actual war zone, or at least a place with a lot of angry gun-toting people. It is a parody of war films, a send-up of modern Hollywood, and, strangely, a product placement for TiVo.

Here’s the synopsis from

When the actors in a Vietnam War film find themselves stranded in the jungle and threatened by armed drug dealers, the film’s star, action hero Tugg Speedman, remains convinced that the entire experience is staged and they are secretly being filmed in an effort to bring a sense of authenticity to the project. Unaware that their lives are in real danger, Tugg leads his co-stars on a mission he believes is destined for the silver screen.

It was possibly a bit too knowingly clever in places, and some of the jokes didn’t entirely work (the bit with Ben Stiller and his captors went on a bit too long), but it never lost sight of the fact that in any good movie the audience must believe in the characters as real people and care about the resolution of the plot. A comedy has a bit more leeway in the suspension of disbelief for the actual facts of the plot, but it’s necessary for things to be coherent enough for one to root for the protagonists. Tropic Thunder, for all its knowing winks at the movie industry, gave its characters enough humanity to let us root for them.

Perhaps Robert Downey Jr. got his Oscar nod here rather than in Iron Man because they wanted to keep the latter in the sci-fi ghetto (best makeup, best effects, best gaffer, etc.), but I won’t complain that he got one somewhere. I’m not a real critic to be able to wax poetic about movie stars, but he has the quality that even as a white actor playing a white actor pretentiously playing a black character in a fake movie he still exudes sincerity. I do hope he’s truly returned to the world and will continue to make movies. I mean, I even enjoyed watching Ally McBeal when he was on it. Ben Stiller was a larger force in Tropic Thunder’s laughs, but I think it’s especially important for a comedy to have a heart, and Robert Downey Jr. provided that.

One Response to Tropic Thunder

  1. […] New review today (Tropic Thunder) by a new guest reviewer – thank you […]

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