Despite its flaws TROPIC THUNDER is a Crowd Pleasing laugh RIOT!
As action comedies go, director Ben Stiller’s large scale TROPIC THUNDER is a winner, delivering a high content of pure entertainment. This film is very ambitious, mixing Hollywood satire, silly over the top parody, and a whole lot of politically incorrect humor with some pretty cool action sequences. Ben Stiller, Jack Black and a terrific Robert Downey Jr. star as a group of actors filming a big time war movie, who are flown to a third world country by a desperate director (Brit funnyman, Steve Coogan) in order to give the proceedings a realistic feel. Little do they know things are about to turn a little too real when they get involved in a real life drug mercenary conflict, causing all hell to break loose. Stiller plays Tug Speedman, a once prominent action star looking to revive his career, who gets himself captured by a vicious gang of drug lords led by a ruthless kid, really well played by Brandon Soo Hoo (Sesame Street fame). Black plays Jeff Portnoy, a drug addicted comic actor known mostly for flatulence movies, and Downey Jr. plays an Oscar winning Australian method actor who transforms himself into a jive talking African American soldier. He’s so good in this film that I could see a possible best supporting actor nomination.
Tom Cruise hits a comic homerun in a smaller supporting role, playing a vile immoral studio chief named Les Grossman. Wearing a fat suit and full body hair, Tom is nothing short of terrific and will probably get him back in the good graces of the industry and his fan base, after the Oprah on the couch fiasco among other issues. Matthew McConaughey also does solid work as Stiller’s conflicted agent as do Nick Nolte, Danny McBride (Pineapple Express), Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby) and Brandon T. Jackson (This Christmas). The film isn’t perfect, as it has an awkward dead spot at the half hour mark when the story in the jungle is setting up, but once it gets its bearings the film has a terrific momentum that supplies big laughs and, unlike last week’s PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, the action oriented last act really works giving the audience a nice adrenaline rush. There’s also a sequence toward the end where a little boy who Stiller’s character has befriended is stabbing him in the back while he’s running across a bridge that had me buckled over in laughter. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen on screen in quite some time. The use of parody trailers in the movie’s beginning was also well done and very funny, and every cameo appearance works to full comic effect. Overall this is a high concept project that delivers and one of the best times I’ve had at the movies this summer! FOUR out of FIVE Zombies!
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