Films by Year
Films by Director
Films by Actor
Films by Actress
Films by Alphabet
TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying
Tom Cruise steals the film. Tom Cruise steals the comedy film! I never thought I would say this but it's so true in Tropic Thunder. Playing a bald, hairy, overweight and dancing machine studio boss, Cruise pulls off one of the funniest characters of the year and literally steals the film from his co-stars - Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte and Matthew McConaughey (with his shirt on for the entire film - a first!; playing an Ari Gold type agent to Ben Stiller's character).
Tropic Thunder is filled with a star studded cast about a star studded cast of actors working on a Vietnam film gone wrong because the movie stars are being too difficult. It makes you wonder if this actually happened in the making of this film too where a group of actors become difficult playing difficult actors making a film. That statement is as confusing as this film is at times where there is some of the funniest moments in film in the last 10 years, and some of the dullest too.
In many ways Tropic Thunder is an insider industry film. There are so many inside jokes about film-making and the business, that if you don't work inside of this maddening industry, you might not get many of the jokes. And there are some classics too! The whole method actor madness is a terrific ongoing joke throughout the film, and Downey Jr. playing the Australian gone African-American in order to play the role of Sergeant Kirk Lazarus is truly an amazing performance.
To break it down Ben Stiller (who also co-wrote and directed the film) plays the Sylvester Stallone/Bruce Willis type of action movie star. He's at the decline of his career and is desperately trying to be a 'serious' actor. Nothing like a Vietnam War film to get his career back on track.
Jack Black plays the Eddie Murphy/Jack Black! type of comedy movie star. He has a bit of a drug problem and his reputation is suffering. Going ensemble in a War film is a nice career choice. A role that was originally suppose to be played by Owen Wilson, Black filled in at the last minute when Wilson's health deteriorated suddenly. So in many ways Black is making fun of the films and characters he plays himself.
Robert Downey Jr. plays the Australian Russell Crowe serious movie star. He transforms himself for roles and is a multiple Oscar award winner. He's always acting in movies and method acting, he kind of forgets who he really is.
And then you have Mr. Tom Cruise playing the studio boss for this film. He's a combination of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Katzenberg. A man who's playing the billion dollar game of movie making. A genius role for Tom Cruise to play and for him to get back his falling popularity with the world. He's had an amazing 25 year run and wants to continue the ride.
There's a lot of irony is having Cruise in this film. Ben Stiller's big break was his 1988 short film 'The Hustler of Money', a parody of Tom Cruise in the Scorsese directed film 'The Color of Money.' In that film Stiller does a dead-on impression of Cruise playing a bowling hustler, a parody of Cruise's role as a pool hustler. A short film that is a must see and hopefully they'll put it on the DVD extras of Tropic Thunder. So putting Cruise in this film 20 years later is a great career full circle for Stiller. In many ways he owes Cruise and perhaps Cruise will owe Stiller after people see this performance.
Ben Stiller is a solid director. So good in fact you wish he made more films. His last directed film Zoolander is one of this reviewers favorite comedies. Tropic Thunder doesn't have as many laughs as Zoolander, but it's a better directed film. And perhaps that's the problem with the movie. Stiller at times is making an action film more than he is a comedy.
Tropic Thunder gets too complicated when it actually should be a simple film about movie stars in a jungle in a foreign environment and country. The fish out of water story has been played a million times because there are still many more laughs to create within this storytelling formula. Stiller tries to dig in a little deeper when he really shouldn't.
In many ways Tropic Thunder is about people taking the business of making movies a little too seriously. And it's true too; people in this business treat what they do as if they are curing cancer. When Stiller leaves this underlying theme, he gets into trouble and the movie suffers with not enough laughs. He's making comedy so he must make us giggle or else we will get bored. And we do get bored for about 30 minutes in the 2nd act because we have no idea what movie we're in! Tropic Thunder starts off with a bang and ends with a bang. But there a major lax time of comedy in the middle. We could of used a little less Stiller and a little more Cruise. The director needed to cut his own performance for the betterment of the film and that's a tough thing to do in the editing room. He's a father who needs to cut himself from his child in order for the child to be the adult they are suppose to be. Many parents have a hard time doing this and so does Stiller with his Tropic Thunder film.
Not to say that Tropic Thunder isn't entertaining, it just could be a lot more funny than what it currently is.
P.S. - the trailer parody at the beginning of this film is truly a classic. Especially right after you watch an endless list of trailers in the cinema and are dying for the movie to actually start!