johnlink ranks TROPIC THUNDER (2008)

I’ve had this on my radar for some time. I saw the Tom Cruise scenes in theater and was instantly sold. This is, without question, his funniest movie (and smartest career-wise). I was hoping this would be good for a number of laughs. Between the decline of Jack Black and the blandness of recent Ben Stiller movies in conjunction with a big contribution from Cruise, this was certainly a reclamation project for many.

I watched TROPIC THUNDER (2008) on 8.19.11. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is a bold comedic film. This earns its R rating with some graphic violence and Jack Black’s drug problem. Stiller, as director, has children thrown off bridges, decapitated heads held up and played for comedy, and Tom Cruise talking dirty and dancing to gangster rap. Some of it works and some doesn’t. The characters are fairly straightforward. Stiller is basically a parody of himself, Robert Downey Jr. is the best part of the film as an Australian Method actor who has undergone pigment replacement to play a black man during Vietnam, and Jack Black has a drug problem. There is a character who turns out to be gay, an agent who has to decide if he has a conscience, and a producer who is a prick. The success of these arcetypes depends on the ability of each actor. Cruise and Downey shine. Stiller and Black are funny, but not ground-breaking.

The script is surprisingly short-sighted. In finishing the movie, it feels as though you saw a film which missed a beat somewhere. Basically, we get a very long first act, then the actors get dropped, get lost, and ultimatley stumble on the climax. Not too much there.

The opening scenes (occurring before the company production logo) with each of the major three actors in a trailer starring the character they are about to play is pure genius. Except for the Cruise scenes, the movie never quite lives up to the brilliance of those trailers.

Stiller as a director is not the most subtle. You can feel his desire to make an R Rated film blow this one up. I love that the otherwise unimportant explosives expert is the only one that is not completely limp when it comes to real confrontation. The actors may have ambitions, but when push comes to shove, they run. But the explosives expert is still there blowing shit up. Made for some funny beats at the end. It also doesn’t hurt that it was Danny McBride playing him.

I walked away from this film liking much, much more than I disliked. Even if this isn’t a classic of the admittedly narrow war-comedy genre (STRIPES!), it still is very funny, very watchable.

SCORES

FILM: 4; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 6; BONUS: 1

The bonus is for the opening trailers. Very funny, never done before in that way (as far as I know). This is different from the fake trailers for GRINDHOUSE because it concerns directly the characters we are about to see, and it establishes them before we even get going. Smart, smart, smart.

4+7+6+6+1=24

FINAL SCORE: 6

~ by johnlink00 on August 21, 2011.

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