Tropic Thunder Review - An Entertaining Action Comedy

If you want to see Tom Cruise in a fat suit, Robert Downey Jr. play a black man, Jack Black with short bleached-blonde hair, and Ben Stiller poke fun at the movie industry, Tropic Thunder is the movie for you.

Photo by DreamWorks Pictures

Directed by Ben Stiller, this laugh-out-loud action comedy stars Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. as pampered movie stars who’s latest project is a war movie aiming to be “the biggest war film ever.” Tom Cruise plays the big-time studio head overly concerned with making money. So much so that he angrily threatens to stop the movie if the director (played by Steve Coogan) can’t get things together. After a little push from the man behind the Vietnam memoir that inspired the movie, the director drags Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. along with Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel to Southeast Asia. The self-obsessed actors unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of real danger. Dressed as American soldiers, they are seen as invaders by a group of drug lords and need to work together to get home safely. Amidst the journey and attempt to escape the drug lords, Ben Stiller is captured and goes insane; convincing himself that he should stay with the drug lords.

The leading men - photo by DreamWorks Pictures

The cast compliments each other nicely. Each actor has their own moments of hilarious screen time, including Matthew Mcconaughey who plays Ben Stiller’s assistant. But leading the pack of funny men in this film is Tom Cruise. A scene featuring him dancing hilariously at the end of the movie will bring you a newfound appreciation for the versatile actor.

Brandon T. Jackson plays Alpa Chino - photo by DreamWorks Pictures

Jack Black completely embodied his character, according to Ben Stiller. “He took this character and embraced every aspect of him,” Ben Stiller said about Jack Black. His role is refreshing, though it is a character that is similar to the type that he usually plays. It’s not a big stretch but Jack Black delivers.

Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., and Ben Stiller - photo by IGN.com

In a role that makes him almost unrecognizable, Robert Downey Jr. successfully portrays a black man. When he does become white again near the movie’s conclusion, his character is an Australian actor so he really moves away from any typical notions that may exist about him.

Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. in a movie-within-a-movie - photo by IGN.com

The last time Ben Stiller directed for the big screen was for Zoolander (2001), a comedy that thrilled audiences. If you are a Ben Stiller fan, you will definitely enjoy Tropic Thunder. However, one aspect of the movie that wasn’t well developed was Ben Stiller’s transformation. One rainy evening he is an egocentric actor who accidentally kills a panda, and the next morning he has gone crazy, wearing the panda’s head on his helmet and allows himself to be captured by the drug lords. This transformation could have been better expanded, as it literally happens overnight.

Ben Stiller - photo by DreamWorks Pictures

Tropic Thunder had good special effects and an interestingly excellent soundtrack, which was a mix of Vietnam era rock music and also some modern rap. Though the film’s plot is notably silly, there is no denying that the theatre will be full of laughs during this comedy. Not only is the movie full of hilarious action and one-liners, but it also pokes fun at Hollywood. More than once, the movie makes fun of how the actors are more into themselves than the meaning behind a war movie, how they need personal assistants, cell phones 24/7, and of course, TiVo. “As stretched as things get in this movie, there is still a basic level of reality,” comments Ben Stiller.

Ben Stiller plays actor Tugg Speedman - photo by DreamWorks Pictures


This action comedy will keep you entertained and has the added bonus of cameos from many celebrities, including Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lance Bass of N’SYNC.

Tropic Thunder hits theatres August 15, 2008 and is rated R.

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