Tropic Thunder (2008)

Movie Title: Tropic Thunder

Year Released: 2008

Rated: R

Runtime: 2h 1min

Genre: Comedy, Action

Director: Ben Stiller

Writer: Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Etan Cohen

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Brandon T. Jackson, Bill Hader, Brandon Soo Hoo, Reggie Lee, Trieu Tran, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise, Maria Menounos

Review: While shooting a war film, the director attempts to liven up proceedings by dropping the principle actors into the middle of a real jungle, claiming he is going to capture their performance with hidden cameras. The hapless group including once-heralded megastar Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), drug-addled comedy star Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), and po-faced method man Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) are completely unaware when a series of unfortunate events leads them into the middle of a real war zone.

Tropic Thunder is one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s. This film boasts an all-star cast, a fun premise, and is filled with hilarious one-liners. Given that all of the actors in this film are playing the roles of actors, this film kicks off with a series of fake movie trailers that are quite comical. I think what I like most about this movie is that it is very self-aware. It's a movie that pokes fun at Hollywood and does so in a way that is so incredibly silly and over-the-top. It ultimately adds up to a comedy film about a group of actors starring in a Platoon-esque war movie. But, when they get stranded in the jungle unintentionally, the movie stars must fight to survive, and also rescue their co-star in Stiller's Tugg Speedman after he's kidnapped by a gang of children called the Flaming Dragons. Yep, you read that right. Absurd beyond belief, but the hilarity that ensues is fantastic.

Another undercover star of this movie is Tom Cruise as the producer of the movie within the movie, Les Grossman. This is by far one of the most ridiculous roles Tom Cruise has ever played. Foul-mouthed. Hot-headed. But he also dons a bald cap and a fat suit with untamed chest hair, as he dances rambunctiously through his Hollywood office. It's almost a shock that Stiller convinced Cruise to do this, but it's absolutely one of the best sideshows of the film.

This movie is completely silly, and perhaps toes the line between what is and isn't kosher, but I find this movie to be wildly entertaining. With its crude humor, exuberant explosions, and cartoonish characters, Tropic Thunder is a Hollywood parody that is a must-watch!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: The character of Kirk Lazarus was originally written as Irish. It was changed to Australian when Robert Downey Jr. said it would be easier to improvise in an Australian accent that he already had developed for Natural Born Killers (1994).


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