Friday, February 13, 2009
2008 Comedy directed by Ben Stiller and written by Ben Stiller, fellow actor Justin Theroux and screenwriting master Ethan Cohen. So Ben Stiller is trying to get work as an actor in the late 80's and finally gets a role in the (excellent by the way) Spielberg war flick Empire of the Sun. He sees that all these, in his opinion, pretentious actors act like they get a real understanding of combat and conflict by going to 'boot camp' for a week before filming. He says that the 'boot camp' was hilariously lame and he noticed that when he visited his friends on the set of other 80's war movies, like Platoon and Casualties of War, it was the same, all the actors lived like pampered princes and then talked about how they understood what it was like to be in the thick of it in battle. So, he started writing Tropic Thunder, which is a comedic look at this, peeling away the phony outer layers. So, in Thunder, a multi-million dollar war flick is being made in Vietnam and the sets are vastly constructed and the after parties wild and full of stars. The actors live like kings. The man on whom this faux movies is actually being made thinks they're just not getting it and suggests that the production move into the woods. All they'll bring is a bag full of explosives, a handheld camera and the primary actors. So they rig a bunch of hidden cameras in the jungle and drop off the actors and the director off. Unfortunately the director, the only one with a radio to the chopper, dies and suddenly all these violent drug dealers are trying to kidnap the actors. In other words, suddenly they really are in the thick of it. It's an interesting idea, but it plays out in pretty typical fashion. Take a character who's very set in his/her ways and stick them in a uncomfortable situation and watch as the comedy ensues and the protagonist learns who they really are and what they really want out of life. Snore. But it's not that bad. There are some funny moments and Robert Downey Jr and Nick Nolte both give great performances. But alot of it's only marginally interesting. For example, Jack Black plays a hilariously edgey pill addict, but he also played this sort of role in 1999's Jesus' Son and, I think, he was much better in that version. So, if you like Ben Stiller style movies, then you'll probably like this one, but if he's not your cup of tea, then I'd wait to catch in on TV.