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Tropic Thunder


Overview - When the box office champ Ben Stiller's comedic performances aren't a variation on a soft-spoken, put-upon everyman with an eventual fuse, he's usually playing a full-blown absurdist monster with an apoplectic Napoleon complex. These bizarre creations usually adorn films in which the funnyman provides the supporting work (DODGEBALL, HEAVYWEIGHTS), but, whenever he's directing, he's free to build an entire filmic universe around his asinine, ludicrously funny, culture-skewering characters and premises.  Read more...

 

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Overview

When the box office champ Ben Stiller's comedic performances aren't a variation on a soft-spoken, put-upon everyman with an eventual fuse, he's usually playing a full-blown absurdist monster with an apoplectic Napoleon complex. These bizarre creations usually adorn films in which the funnyman provides the supporting work (DODGEBALL, HEAVYWEIGHTS), but, whenever he's directing, he's free to build an entire filmic universe around his asinine, ludicrously funny, culture-skewering characters and premises. His ZOOLANDER (2001) bit at the entertainment industry with silly abandon, but Stiller has firmly set TROPIC THUNDER within the realm of sophisticated Hollywood satire. In it, a desperate director named Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) trying to make a Vietnam war movie drops his pampered actors into the heart of the jungle. Cockburn's stars include Stiller as an action hero who's starting to make bad career choices, Jack Black as an insecure low-brow comedy star going through heroin withdrawals, and Robert Downey Jr. as an Australian Oscar winner so lost in his "craft" he underwent a procedure to become black for his role. In the jungle, they remain under the delusion that they are still being filmed even after they encounter a dangerous gang of druglords. The film's basic premise has popped up several times since Hollywood's 1970s golden age in films such as THREE AMIGOS! and GALAXY QUEST. Where those films simply blanketed a classic Overconfident Bumbling Idiot comedy showcase with a pop culture lexicon, however, TROPIC THUNDER could have only been made, as on-the-nose at is, by people who have been working in the Hollywood system for years, making cutting observations along the way. Simply put, this raucous satire knows big-budget filmmaking, the delusional narcissism of actors, and even the good points of those actors--perhaps why they're celebrated--like the back of its hand.

Cast List

Eric McLeod - THE CELL
Ben Stiller - American director/actor, MEET THE PARENTS (2000)
Theodore Shapiro - Composer, YOU, ME AND DUPREE (2006)
John Toll
Robert Downey Jr. - American actor, CHAPLIN (1992), IRON MAN (2008)
Nick Nolte - American actor, AFFLICTION
Brandon T. Jackson - Actor, ROLL BOUNCE (2005)
Steve Coogan - British comedian/actor
Etan Cohen - Screenwriter, IDIOCRACY (2006)
Justin Theroux - Actor/writer/director
Stuart Cornfield - Producer, TENACIOUS D, (2006)
Jack Black - Actor, HIGH FIDELITY
Bill Hader - American actor, HOT ROD
Jay Baruchel - Actor
Matthew McConaughey - American actor, SAHARA, FOOL'S GOLD
Danny McBride - Actor, ALL THE REAL GIRLS (2003)
Tom Cruise - American Actor, RISKY BUSINESS, EYES WIDE SHUT
Thomas Cruise Mapother IV - American Actor, RISKY BUSINESS, EYES WIDE SHUT

 
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Reviews:
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "You get it all in TROPIC THUNDER, a knock-out of a comedy that keeps you laughing constantly. It's also killer smart, lacing combustible action with explosive gags." - 08/21/2008 Rolling Stone, p.91


3 stars out of 4 -- "Cruise's paunchy studio exec is easily the funniest role of his fairly straight-faced career....Cruise's bald-pated, hairy-knuckled movie mogul is outrageously amusing." - 08/14/2008 USA Today


"Stiller has a gift for take-no-prisoners sketch humor that goes all the way back to his short-lived, Emmy-winning TV series 'The Ben Stiller Show.'" - 08/13/2008 Los Angeles Times


"[Stiller] breaks down as a remarkably talented and wholly consistent filmmaker in films like TROPIC THUNDER....[The film] recalls the comic dread of DR. STRANGELOVE..." - 08/07/2008 Premiere


3 stars out of 5 -- "Cruise cuts loose MAGNOLIA-style....He should consider making more forays into all-out comedy....Downey, Jr., meanwhile, is just superb..." - 10/01/2008 Empire, p.48


"TROPIC THUNDER is at once packed with gossipy detail and teasing references to real-life celebrities but broad enough in its knockabout to count as a regular funny movie with redemption at the end." - 11/01/2008 Sight and Sound, p.75


Included in Entertainment Weekly's 2008 Films Of The Year -- "The director/co-writer/star's knowing, balls-out send-up of ripe action-moviemaking emphasizes the absurdities of Hollywood privilege." - 12/26/2008 Entertainment Weekly


"TROPIC THUNDER sends up all things Hollywood, from pampered actors and outrageous media tycoons to war movies in general....All actors get their share of the comic spotlight." - 07/26/2008 Hollywood Reporter

 
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