Film Review: Tropic Thunder

— by Caroline on Crack

OMG I actually liked a Ben Stiller movie. I haven’t liked anything he’s been in since There’s Something About Mary. I hated Zoolander, Meet the Fockers, Dodgeball…if he was in it, I hated it. But after I found myself giggling at the trailers and gave Tropic Thunder a healthy 84% I decided to give ol’ Ben a chance.

And surprisingly, the people I thought would fer sure be annoying in this movie, i.e. Ben, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey weren’t that bad. In fact everyone toed that line of being funny without going over the top to astronomically annoying. Even Jack Black. To paraphrase a controversial line in the movie, no one went full imbecile. It was amazing. I actually liked everyone in this cast.

Of course there were a few moments when you hoped they wouldn’t “go there” and of course they did. Ben Stiller did write and direct the movie, after all. I just hid behind my hair during those gross-out scenes. At least there were instances in the story when that wasn’t the case; where you thought you could predict the next line or reaction and they’d go a completely other way.

As for the controversial use of the word “retard” and the depiction of a mentally disabled person, in the context of the movie, it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. When I first heard of the protesters, I felt for them. The R-word is a hateful word and we’ve come so far from those days when that word was considered funny. But this movie was about stoopid people making a stoopid blockbuster movie and the way they spoke, lived their misguided lives, took on situations, etc. weren’t things to be admired.

And for me, the humor wasn’t in the use of the word but rather in the conversation between the characters where Robert Downey Jr.’s “five-time Oscar-winning” Kirk Lazarus is giving Stiller’s Tugg Speedman acting advice. Taken out of context, not funny at all. In the movie? HI-larious. Anyway, the best line in the movie wasn’t that one, but rather “I’m a lead farmer, muthafucka!” You’ll find yourself saying that line over and over again after watching the movie.

Also there was some controversy with Robert Downey Jr.’s character’s portrayal of a black man. But with “another” black actor in the movie constantly keeping RDJ’s Lazarus in check and berating him for his stereotypical depiction, well he said everything you’d want to say to Lazarus, too.

And frankly, Robert Downey Jr. stole this movie, playing a confused but talented Australian actor (a la Russell Crowe) committing to his role as a black Vietnam sergeant named Osiris. He was so committed, in fact, that when he was disguised as a Chinese farmer and spoke Mandarin, he still did so as Osiris — a black man speaking Mandarin, not as the Chinese farmer he was pretending to be.

Tom Cruise was pretty close to stealing the show, too, as the maniacal studio head but instead he just came away with one of the best cameos in a movie ever. I even almost liked him. Good career move on his part. Just when you thought he went on the deep end of crazy, he took a risk and played this part to the hilt, almost redeeming himself.

So, yeah, I really loved this movie. It was nonstop funny. I thought for sure I’d reach that point that I usually reach in over-the-top comedies, when I stop laughing and start rolling my eyes. But that wasn’t the case here. The storyline was solid and so were the characters. Not only is this a film I wouldn’t mind seeing again in a theater, but I’d like to own it when it hits DVD.

I’m a lead farmer, muthafucka!