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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dumb preview, smart movie

Tropic Thunder is full of surprises

Published: September 5, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

Every once in a while, a person is lucky enough to see a preview for a movie which so lowers their expectations, that when they actually see the film, they love it. For me, that movie was Tropic Thunder.

Ben Stiller, the co-writer, producer, director, and star of the film, advertised the hell out of his film. All summer I had seen previews for the movie which starred Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr. and, obviously Stiller. None of these previews really appealed to me, and I was convinced that the only funny scenes in the movie were shown in the trailer.

Then, during the MTV Movie Awards the trio got together and did a mini-film about their movie. The mini joked about Downey Jr.’s Iron Man fame and Black’s tendency to be involved in silly, unfortunate situations.

Though I found the mini to be humorous and surprising, I still did not share what seemed to be everyone else’s passion for Tropic Thunder.

Yet the Friday after its premiere, I found myself going with my good friend to see a midnight showing of the film. I was already exhausted after a long day at work, but my friend had peer pressured me into the theater.

Those who have seen the film will understand what I mean when I said I was incredibly confused by its beginning. Once I figured out what was going on though, I found it hilarious and continued laughing the whole way through.

The next day I even dragged another friend of mine to see it, because I so desperately wanted to relive the hilarity of Tropic Thunder.

Why is this movie so spectacular? I think that I loved it so much because it is surprising, put together amazingly, and very well written. Downey Jr. has some of the wittiest and most epic lines I’ve ever heard in any movie.

Above all though, the movie is smart. Stiller’s attention to detail and reality is fabulous and adds so much to the film. He clearly cared about making the characters believable and I think the audience, whether it wants to or not, finds itself invested in these crazy actors.

For those who don’t know, Tropic Thunder is about the making of a war movie. Three major actors from multiple genres of movies star in the film and when the director realizes he cannot control these personalities, he decides to take his actors into the wild and film the movie “Blair Witch” style. Of course, once out in the tropics, things take a turn for the worst and the danger becomes very real.

Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a fading action star who is hoping that Tropic Thunder will re-energize his career. Cast along side him is Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.), a five-time Academy Award winner, and Jeff Portnoy (Black) a low-brow comedian who does movies based upon fart jokes.

Each character has his major flaws, all of which add to the hilarity. By far Lazarus was my favorite character for the lines he is given and the way he delivers them.

Beyond the three main characters, there are loads of cameos and other well-known actors who show up as characters in the film. The movie is an absolute delight and hopefully will be as well quoted as Zoolander was.

I recommend this movie for anyone who has enjoyed Stiller’s work in the past and loves comedies. It was perhaps my favorite film of the summer.