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Tropic Thunder

Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE. Of all the films that Ben Stiller has directed and starred in, ‘Tropic Thunder’ has to be considered one of his best works, if not
06 Sep 2008 12:00

Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE. Of all the films that Ben Stiller has directed and starred in, ‘Tropic Thunder’ has to be considered one of his best works, if not the best out of all. Operating both in front and behind the camera, Stiller brings this hilarious comedy to viewers as the film that knocked the latest Batman movie from the number one spot at the U.S. box office after several weeks running. Now running at Village Six Cinemas for over a week, the film pulls together an assembly of A-list actors and an original storyline that blends together much comedy with high-level action, not seen since the movie ‘Hot Fuzz’. Aside from Ben Stiller, its cast list includes Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise with Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel as Kevin Sandusky.
The movie’s five main characters are all fictional actors who are trying to shoot a war film together. To point out their fame, the movie first opens with previews of each character’s non-existent upcoming movies. The first fictional preview is with Brandon T. Jackson’s character called Alpa Chino advertising his soft drink. The second preview is with Ben Stiller’s character Tugg Speedman advertising his next action movie. The third is with Jack Black’s character Jeff Portnoy promoting his latest gross-out comedy and the last is with Robert Downey Jr’s character Kirk Lazarus in his next thought-provoking film.
The four actors along with a new rookie actor named Kevin have signed on to play platoon soldiers in a Vietnam War movie. But as production begins to fall apart, a news segment reveals a little back-story into the careers of each actor off the movie set. It shows that Tugg Speedman is slowly losing his appeal as an action star while Jeff Portnoy is a drug-addicted comedian. Alpa Chino is seen as a highly successful rapper-turned-actor who continues to promote his soft drink, while Kirk Lazarus is shown to be a multi-award winning Australian actor who has undergone a controversial make-up procedure to alter his looks in order to portray their war movie’s African American character.
Disaster hits the movie set with each of the actors conflicting with one another as well as with the director and special effects manager. The movie’s foul-mouthed studio manager, Les Grossman (played by Tom Cruise wearing a fat-suit and a bald head) threatens to shut down the film’s production unless the director can get his actors under control. To do this, the director takes the advice of a real war veteran played by Nick Nolte and takes the actors in their army costumes into the actual Vietnam jungle in order to survive. In hopes of filming their emotions realistically, the director sets up hidden cameras in the jungle trees to film them as they act out their parts. Watching from a safe distance are the war veteran and the movie’s pyro-mad special effects manager who eventually become captured by the jungle’s authentic drug lords.
With some of them assuming they are still being filmed and others becoming pessimistic, the actors try to continue their job. When the drug lords see the actors in their army costumes, they assume the actors are real life commandos on a mission to topple the jungle’s hidden opium farms and drug trafficking. The movie’s story keeps moving with the actors slowly beginning to realize what their situation has become.
All the hilarity of the film comes from the actors and their dialogue, whether it be Robert Downey Jr constantly remaining in his character’s portrayal of the African American soldier despite their situation, Jack Black’s character suffering withdrawal symptoms or Tom Cruise’s character cursing everyone he encounters. Each character brings something differently funny to the story, but there is a great deal of action in it as well. There are several scenes that audiences will notice as parodies of classic Vietnam War movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Platoon’.
A lot of the action builds up with the comedy when the characters try to outgun and outfight the drug lords, especially in the climax with each of them finding out what they’re made off. The film also features cameos from multiple celebrities like Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lance Bass, Tyra Banks, Jon Voight and Tobey Maguire and even features hilarious moments with Tom Cruise’s character dancing to rap music. The story in ‘Tropic Thunder’ is a rare one that is very well brought onto the screen. Its solid script allows audiences to relate to at least one of its primary characters and generally pokes harmless fun at all film actors and movie making. This film, which is obviously aimed at adults, will keep its target audiences laughing and will definitely let them realise why it’s such a top-notch action comedy to look forward to.

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