Saw me some Tropic Thunder this weekend and shoooo-weee was that a let down. It's a bummer how the sum is way way lower than it's parts. There's a good formula for a movie somewhere in here....I mean it worked for Three Amigos. Take a handful of talented actors, put them in a comedy about being actors in a situation that is like a movie but "real" and watch the calamity. The roll call was even pretty decent, and the acting jobs not completely terrible. Robert Downey Jr, Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte...all people I really enjoy watching on screen. Did I enjoy watching them this time? Not so much...and I can't really tell you why exactly.
The first 15-20 minutes were pretty damn promising, and I was getting my hopes up right at the start with the series of fake commercials and movie trailers making cracks on the state of Hollywood these days. Though, once that was over, things fell right back into the run-of-the-mill brand of humor that Stiller seems so bent on making. (Despite being way better at darker subject matter) Hell, he even threw a small creature. He's always throwing some helpless living thing that ends up being not so helpless and attacking him be it a monkey, small dog, or in this case baby.
For a long time I've wanted to just sit around making effigies of Ben Stiller and spend my weekends thinking of new ways to maim them...but I try to given him some slack and remember Cable Guy and Permanent Midnight. Why doesn't he make more movies like these? Perhaps it's easier to blow shit up, make goofy faces, make Jack Black run around naked screaming, act retarded (literally), and have harmless things become really dangerous. I guess that's what we all enjoy seeing over and over and over again anyway...
The movie only had me laughing during a few points, but the pyro and action FX were actually pretty fun to watch and the visual aesthetic was probably a huge saving grace for me. Also, I was fairly impressed at the performance of Jay Baruchel, who totally nailed the token nerdy guy in every war movie. Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jr. carried this film on their backs as far as I'm concerned, and Tom Cruises appearance, whilst funny the first two times, became very old and eventually god awful during the end credits. However, I still feel that it was exactly the right move for him to maintain a career in Hollywood. Everyone likes someone that can laugh at themselves. Especially when they are bat shit insane.
I'm sure it will make a bunch of money, cause there are enough idiots in this world that instead of just putting in their special edition DVD's of "There's something about Mary", "Dodgeball", "Zoolander" or any other Ben Stiller churn out...they'll go see this one cause stuff blows up.
Also, be sure to download the podcast of Monday's show which includes the audio review of Tropic Thunder!