If "Tropic Thunder" is wrong, I don't want to be right

by Eric Melin on August 21, 2008

in Print Reviews

Satire is a tricky thing, and Ben Stiller used to do a lot more of it than he has lately. The actor is extremely good at playing the put-upon everyman who finds himself in the middle of chaos (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Meet the Parents”), and he’s made a lot of money starring in mainstream kiddie flicks like “Night at the Museum,” but it’s not so often anymore that the go-for-broke tone that he showed as a director in “The Cable Guy” and “Zoolander” comes to light anymore. With the bloody and cringe-inducing “Tropic Thunder,” it seems that all that irascibility has been building up for quite awhile and has finally been released.

stiller downey jr. tropic thinderStiller used to showcase this side of his comedy more in the short-lived “The Ben Stiller Show” on FOX in the early 1990s, but without the ability that he has in this movie to roam completely unrestrained from network censors. It’s a wonder that the long-gestating script of “Tropic Thunder,” co-written by Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen, ever got turned into a feature film. Who wants to see an uncompromising parody of Hollywood’s backstabbing self-absorption and self-importance? Well, I do.

It may be an uneven parody, but “Tropic Thunder” is so right on most of the time that it hurts to laugh. This isn’t the easy, date-and-a-movie night out that Stiller movies usually are. This film is genuinely uncomfortable. In fact, you may want to make sure you know the person you see this movie with very well because it could be hard to explain why you were laughing so hard at Stiller’s horribly offensive Simple Jack character if you’re not prepared for the reaction from your date.

The thing is—Stiller has his bases covered. All the lead characters in “Tropic Thunder” are complete tools. (Sound familiar, “Zoolander” fans?) Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is a brainless action star who yearns for Oscar credibility. Blonde, blue-eyed Australian Method actor Kirk Lazarus (a fearless Robert Downey Jr.) has that cred—partially because he is stupid enough to get his skin color permanently altered to play a black man. And overweight Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) is a spoiled little heroin-addicted fatty whose farts have made him a lot of money. The fact that they are clueless about how vain they are doesn’t mean that we have to be, and watching comparably normal actors Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) deal with these hot-air factories is the movie’s best part—aside from the very funny fake movie trailers and ads that begin the film.

black downey jr. stiller tropic thunderTo say Downey Jr. is out on a limb with this role would be an understatement. The fact that Lazarus refuses to be himself even after it’s obvious that no one is filming them anymore (“I don’t drop character until I done the DVD commentary”) is one level of wrongness. But to have him take offense as a black man—played by a white man—to a harmless comment by Speedman and then try to get support from an actual African-American who is not in character is a messy kind of meta wrongness. On top of that, the boundless clichés that Lazarus has steeped his badass platoon leader in are funny as well, but one can’t help but feel guilty for laughing.

That also goes for “Simple Jack,” the movie that Speedman stars in on his quest for recognition as an actor. Playing the most supremely offensive version of a mentally challenged person (with freckles, an extreme overbite, and a bowl cut) doesn’t just poke fun at a lonely actor’s desperation to be loved, but also at what audiences will accept as entertainment. The angry groups who protest the movie are missing the point. Stiller’s controversial exchange with Downey Jr. where the multiple Oscar-winner warns the faded action hero never to go “full retard” isn’t making fun of people with mental disabilities, it’s a malicious send-up of a culture that we as moviegoers have come to accept and, by some extent, egg on.

If it sounds like a lot of work, sometimes “Tropic Thunder” is just that. Nick Nolte is the perfect grizzled war veteran and Danny McBride’s offbeat delivery makes his napalm-crazy FX man a little funnier than written, but both actors are saddled with more screen time than their characters can support. Nolte in particular, is a perfect example of someone who is given a joke so obvious that you saw it coming a mile away, and the script’s stubbornness to continually milk it is an unfortunate one.

Bill Hader and Jack Black are both underused, and Tom Cruise has a cameo that you’ve probably heard a lot about. Here’s the straight deal: As funny as Cruise is in the role, it’s impossible not to bring in all the baggage the actor has had recently and project the persona of “Tom Cruise” onto his character, a supremely slimy studio head. Had this been a role with something to sink his teeth into, Cruise may have been able to disappear, but as it is, you see Cruise with a bald head in a fat suit, screaming and gyrating. Again, some of it is pretty hilarious, and some of it is funny only because you know its Tom Cruise.

The fact of the matter is that “Tropic Thunder” has more downright evil laughs than anything I’ve seen in a while, and if it’s mean-spirited charm causes it to lose a little velocity as it progresses, then that’s OK. Especially since the movie never lets up on the wrongness factor until the credits roll.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil August 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Great review. I’m not a big fan of this sort of thing, and wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it, but I found myself very, very pleasantly surprised. I know what you mean about Tom Cruise, too. Him turning out good performances makes it hard to dislike the guy, even though he clearly deserves a monsoon of contempt.

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2 Phil August 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Great review. I’m not a big fan of this sort of thing, and wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it, but I found myself very, very pleasantly surprised. I know what you mean about Tom Cruise, too. Him turning out good performances makes it hard to dislike the guy, even though he clearly deserves a monsoon of contempt.

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3 Frankilin Turdz August 22, 2008 at 8:52 pm

“but one can’t help but feel guilty for laughing.”
No, we don’t need to feel guilty for anything. This idiotic limp-wristed way of thinking is pointless. Were you equally horrified by the whiteface used in “White Chicks?? Didn’t think so – stfu.

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4 Frankilin Turdz August 22, 2008 at 8:52 pm

“but one can’t help but feel guilty for laughing.”
No, we don’t need to feel guilty for anything. This idiotic limp-wristed way of thinking is pointless. Were you equally horrified by the whiteface used in “White Chicks?? Didn’t think so – stfu.

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5 Rachelle August 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel were my favorites because they were the ones giving the “actors” reality checks. I’m really glad that they casted these guys. I went to a test screening of this move a couple of months ago and was in a focus group for it. I said that Jay was my favorite, (I’m an Undeclared fan) and the thing that made his character effective was choosing an actor of his status. There was less than a handful of our group (out of 40ish) that knew who he was, kind of like how the “actors” didn’t know his name. I think if they would have given Alpa and Kevin’s characters to big time actors, this movie would have been shit.

Contrary to what you said, our group decided this was the perfect date movie, in a weed-out first date movie kinda way. If your date can’t stomach this movie, time to move on.

“Satan’s Alley” and “you never go full retard” were the best! I was never a big Ben Stiller fan, but I loved this.

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6 Rachelle August 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel were my favorites because they were the ones giving the “actors” reality checks. I’m really glad that they casted these guys. I went to a test screening of this move a couple of months ago and was in a focus group for it. I said that Jay was my favorite, (I’m an Undeclared fan) and the thing that made his character effective was choosing an actor of his status. There was less than a handful of our group (out of 40ish) that knew who he was, kind of like how the “actors” didn’t know his name. I think if they would have given Alpa and Kevin’s characters to big time actors, this movie would have been shit.

Contrary to what you said, our group decided this was the perfect date movie, in a weed-out first date movie kinda way. If your date can’t stomach this movie, time to move on.

“Satan’s Alley” and “you never go full retard” were the best! I was never a big Ben Stiller fan, but I loved this.

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7 Eric Melin August 23, 2008 at 12:23 am

Franklin-
Not a pang of guilt? Not one iota? I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily to feel guilty for, I’m just saying I did– knowing exactly why I was laughing, but also knowing that others may not feel the same way. And, for the record, I’ve never seen “White Chicks.”

Rachelle-
I like your idea that this movie will weed out the undesirble mate. You are truly hardcore. I agree that no-name actors (not everyone is cool enough to reference “Undeclared”) was the way to go in those parts. Jackson and Baruchel have been unheralded before now, so let’s give them their props. I think it says something about the movie that one of the “grounded” characters has a hip-hop takeoff of Al Pacino for a name and promotes a drink called Booty Sweat.

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8 Eric Melin August 23, 2008 at 12:23 am

Franklin-
Not a pang of guilt? Not one iota? I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily to feel guilty for, I’m just saying I did– knowing exactly why I was laughing, but also knowing that others may not feel the same way. And, for the record, I’ve never seen “White Chicks.”

Rachelle-
I like your idea that this movie will weed out the undesirble mate. You are truly hardcore. I agree that no-name actors (not everyone is cool enough to reference “Undeclared”) was the way to go in those parts. Jackson and Baruchel have been unheralded before now, so let’s give them their props. I think it says something about the movie that one of the “grounded” characters has a hip-hop takeoff of Al Pacino for a name and promotes a drink called Booty Sweat.

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9 Rachelle August 23, 2008 at 1:23 am

So I just googled Booty Sweat to see promotional stuff for it. Umm apparently they are actually going to be stocking shelves with it. You can find it on Amazon.com. I can’t decide if that’s the best idea ever or the worst idea ever. If they make Bust-A-Nut bars then I’m totally handing them out to trick-or-treaters.

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10 Rachelle August 23, 2008 at 1:23 am

So I just googled Booty Sweat to see promotional stuff for it. Umm apparently they are actually going to be stocking shelves with it. You can find it on Amazon.com. I can’t decide if that’s the best idea ever or the worst idea ever. If they make Bust-A-Nut bars then I’m totally handing them out to trick-or-treaters.

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11 WAYLIFE August 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

This has got to be the most vulgar, disgusting movie I have attempted to get through in YEARS!! I walked out with my bother in law (who is 26) behind at least 5 couples of varying ages, mostly 20 somethings. The teenagers in the theater were starting to force thier laughter about 20 minutes into the movie. I wouldn’t allow my teenager into that movie. The people next to me were completly embarrased as I looked around and apparently they didn’t have the guts to get up and leave.

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12 WAYLIFE August 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm

This has got to be the most vulgar, disgusting movie I have attempted to get through in YEARS!! I walked out with my bother in law (who is 26) behind at least 5 couples of varying ages, mostly 20 somethings. The teenagers in the theater were starting to force thier laughter about 20 minutes into the movie. I wouldn’t allow my teenager into that movie. The people next to me were completly embarrased as I looked around and apparently they didn’t have the guts to get up and leave.

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13 Phil August 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I’m guessing “WAYLIFE” doesn’t see too many movies. I hope your teenager sees it to spite you.

And as for Frankilin’s comment, while I, myself, wasn’t offended, it’s understandable how some might be, and comparing blackface to the ridiculous, unconvincing prosthetics in “White Chicks” is stupid. It’s also stupid to pretend that whites have just as much a right to be offended by racial humor as African-Americans; give me a break.

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14 Phil August 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I’m guessing “WAYLIFE” doesn’t see too many movies. I hope your teenager sees it to spite you.

And as for Frankilin’s comment, while I, myself, wasn’t offended, it’s understandable how some might be, and comparing blackface to the ridiculous, unconvincing prosthetics in “White Chicks” is stupid. It’s also stupid to pretend that whites have just as much a right to be offended by racial humor as African-Americans; give me a break.

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15 mandy August 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Well I’m kinda glad I didn’t PAY to see it. Hooray for certain film sites that let you weed out the meh from the great so you know what is worth paying for and what is just worth 90 min staring at your pc screen and waiting for the dam thing to finish buffering every 5 minutes.

It’s a movie I thought was gonna be funnier than it was. The Simple Jack stuff made me almost pee my pants, and Robert Downey Junior deserves an OSCAR for this performance! WOW! The no name back ground characters were really great, and am I the only one who thought Tom Cruises character reminded them of James Lipton?

I actually thought that at first, Satan’s Alley was real! I thought for some reason it was a movie about Martin Luther, the guy who made the Lutheran church. Then I see the Tobey Macguire crap and i was like oh man, pwned!

all in all 7.5 out of 10

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16 mandy August 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Well I’m kinda glad I didn’t PAY to see it. Hooray for certain film sites that let you weed out the meh from the great so you know what is worth paying for and what is just worth 90 min staring at your pc screen and waiting for the dam thing to finish buffering every 5 minutes.

It’s a movie I thought was gonna be funnier than it was. The Simple Jack stuff made me almost pee my pants, and Robert Downey Junior deserves an OSCAR for this performance! WOW! The no name back ground characters were really great, and am I the only one who thought Tom Cruises character reminded them of James Lipton?

I actually thought that at first, Satan’s Alley was real! I thought for some reason it was a movie about Martin Luther, the guy who made the Lutheran church. Then I see the Tobey Macguire crap and i was like oh man, pwned!

all in all 7.5 out of 10

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17 Jo August 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Another vote for ‘MOST DISGUSTING’and…. vulgar, nasty, tasteless, rude, crude, gross, mean, racist, sexist, discriminating and a disappointing, pathetic-loser attempt at humor. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!
I sooooooooooooo wanted my money BACK!!
Good riddance Ben…….this is the last movie I will everrrrrrr see with you involved!!!

YOU SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, BTW………shame on you!

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18 Jo August 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Another vote for ‘MOST DISGUSTING’and…. vulgar, nasty, tasteless, rude, crude, gross, mean, racist, sexist, discriminating and a disappointing, pathetic-loser attempt at humor. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!
I sooooooooooooo wanted my money BACK!!
Good riddance Ben…….this is the last movie I will everrrrrrr see with you involved!!!

YOU SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, BTW………shame on you!

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19 Genie August 24, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I have to agree with “WAYLIFE”. It was also one of the worst movies I have seen and ended up walking out half way through! The little amount of laughter throughout the theatre sounded more forced than natural!

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20 Genie August 24, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I have to agree with “WAYLIFE”. It was also one of the worst movies I have seen and ended up walking out half way through! The little amount of laughter throughout the theatre sounded more forced than natural!

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21 Eric Melin August 25, 2008 at 12:20 am

At this point I’d like to point out that not seeing the entire film doesn’t give you the full perspective of the filmmaker. So if you walked out, it’s really your own fault for not thinking enough about what was onscreen and just taking it at face value- which you can never do with parody. Ever seen “The Colbert Report”? Do you think he’s really a conservative pundit? I understand why this confrontaional humor turns people off, but I don’t get the self-righteous stance at all.

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22 Eric Melin August 25, 2008 at 12:20 am

At this point I’d like to point out that not seeing the entire film doesn’t give you the full perspective of the filmmaker. So if you walked out, it’s really your own fault for not thinking enough about what was onscreen and just taking it at face value- which you can never do with parody. Ever seen “The Colbert Report”? Do you think he’s really a conservative pundit? I understand why this confrontaional humor turns people off, but I don’t get the self-righteous stance at all.

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23 Tim August 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I saw the movie and thought it was quite funny. As to those who commented about it being the most vulgar movie they’ve ever seen…Get out much? Seriously, do you go to the movies very often?

I’ll be the first to admit that this type of humor isn’t for everyone. I’ll also be the first to admit that many people simply don’t get parody. So, if you weren’t smart enough to appreciate the humor in the movie, then that is your problem. If you simply don’t like this type of movie, then why go in the first place? It wasn’t exactly like they were hiding what this was all about.

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24 Tim August 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I saw the movie and thought it was quite funny. As to those who commented about it being the most vulgar movie they’ve ever seen…Get out much? Seriously, do you go to the movies very often?

I’ll be the first to admit that this type of humor isn’t for everyone. I’ll also be the first to admit that many people simply don’t get parody. So, if you weren’t smart enough to appreciate the humor in the movie, then that is your problem. If you simply don’t like this type of movie, then why go in the first place? It wasn’t exactly like they were hiding what this was all about.

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25 Tim August 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm

By the way Joooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Can you repeat more charactersssssssssssssssssssssssss whennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn youuuuuuuuuuuu typeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee????????????????????

That way we’ll know you are really trying to make some stupid pointttttttttttttttttttt.

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26 Tim August 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm

By the way Joooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Can you repeat more charactersssssssssssssssssssssssss whennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn youuuuuuuuuuuu typeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee????????????????????

That way we’ll know you are really trying to make some stupid pointttttttttttttttttttt.

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27 Shelley August 25, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Personally I adored this movie, I plan on buying it and Zoolander (shame on me for not buying it yet) and putting those next to my copy of Blades of Glory.

And yeah it was an uncomfortable movie but that’s what made it so amazing. The fact that the cast had the guts to make this makes me like them a whole lot more, not that I didn’t already love them. I can understand that this type of humor isn’t for everybody but for those of you who walked out in the middle of it, you really don’t have to right to completely bash it, there were parts of it that, if given the chance, and the possibility that you have a sense of humor, would have made you bust a gut. But then again, maybe this just isn’t you type of movie, and in that case you should not have gone to see it because it’s not like the movie was hiding what it was all about.

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28 Shelley August 25, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Personally I adored this movie, I plan on buying it and Zoolander (shame on me for not buying it yet) and putting those next to my copy of Blades of Glory.

And yeah it was an uncomfortable movie but that’s what made it so amazing. The fact that the cast had the guts to make this makes me like them a whole lot more, not that I didn’t already love them. I can understand that this type of humor isn’t for everybody but for those of you who walked out in the middle of it, you really don’t have to right to completely bash it, there were parts of it that, if given the chance, and the possibility that you have a sense of humor, would have made you bust a gut. But then again, maybe this just isn’t you type of movie, and in that case you should not have gone to see it because it’s not like the movie was hiding what it was all about.

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29 Mogg August 27, 2008 at 3:01 pm

I guess I just don’t get the movie w/in a movie parody thing. It had a few minor out loud chuckles (Jack Black saying what he’ll do to his fellow castmate when untied from a tree). I wasn’t offended or outraged, i just didn’t think it was very funny. Simple Jack was mildly amusing at best. If you wanna see decent Hollywood insider stuff I recommend the movie “For Your Consideration” and even better the HBO series “Entourage”

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30 Mogg August 27, 2008 at 3:01 pm

I guess I just don’t get the movie w/in a movie parody thing. It had a few minor out loud chuckles (Jack Black saying what he’ll do to his fellow castmate when untied from a tree). I wasn’t offended or outraged, i just didn’t think it was very funny. Simple Jack was mildly amusing at best. If you wanna see decent Hollywood insider stuff I recommend the movie “For Your Consideration” and even better the HBO series “Entourage”

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31 Sue August 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Sorry Phil – even white people have a right to be offended by racial comments/actions.

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32 Sue August 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Sorry Phil – even white people have a right to be offended by racial comments/actions.

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33 alexis! September 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

i went to see it with my friend and we were pretty much laughing our asses off! but then my little sister took my GRANDMA to see it without me knowing, and the next thing i know I’m the audience of a 45 min rant about it. i mean i guess with my grandma living through the war and generally not getting modern comedy it makes sense…
but yeah..old people + tropic thunder = not compatible!

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34 alexis! September 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

i went to see it with my friend and we were pretty much laughing our asses off! but then my little sister took my GRANDMA to see it without me knowing, and the next thing i know I’m the audience of a 45 min rant about it. i mean i guess with my grandma living through the war and generally not getting modern comedy it makes sense…
but yeah..old people + tropic thunder = not compatible!

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35 Scott Sommers September 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Are you fucking serious?? I spent more time pulling and twisting the foreskin off my dick than laughing at this movie.

Tip or Die
Scott Sommers
Leader of the Rock n Roll Vote ’08

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36 Scott Sommers September 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Are you fucking serious?? I spent more time pulling and twisting the foreskin off my dick than laughing at this movie.

Tip or Die
Scott Sommers
Leader of the Rock n Roll Vote ’08

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37 Shelley September 1, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Scott,

Hon, sweetheart, I don’t give a damn if you hated the movie or not but maybe you could be a little less crass and not tell the world what you do to yourself. Because it just makes you sound like a jackass.

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38 Shelley September 1, 2008 at 8:18 pm

Scott,

Hon, sweetheart, I don’t give a damn if you hated the movie or not but maybe you could be a little less crass and not tell the world what you do to yourself. Because it just makes you sound like a jackass.

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39 Eric Melin September 1, 2008 at 11:15 pm

wow. I can’t imagine going to TT with a grandparent. it may be hard for them to understand that its not making fun of war itself or that sacrifice or any of the other things that a huge generation gap might expose. yikes!

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40 Eric Melin September 1, 2008 at 11:15 pm

wow. I can’t imagine going to TT with a grandparent. it may be hard for them to understand that its not making fun of war itself or that sacrifice or any of the other things that a huge generation gap might expose. yikes!

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41 A September 2, 2008 at 4:49 pm

This movie might have been offensive but they did point out the wrongfulness of the stereotyping. They had characters set other characters straight. Tugg had Kurk to set him straight about his role as Simple Jack, and Kurk had Alpa to set him straight when he was playing a black dude.

But yeah, some of the stuff might be offensive but a lot of Hollywood movies might not agree with everyone especially people who aren’t open minded.

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42 A September 2, 2008 at 4:49 pm

This movie might have been offensive but they did point out the wrongfulness of the stereotyping. They had characters set other characters straight. Tugg had Kurk to set him straight about his role as Simple Jack, and Kurk had Alpa to set him straight when he was playing a black dude.

But yeah, some of the stuff might be offensive but a lot of Hollywood movies might not agree with everyone especially people who aren’t open minded.

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43 Diana September 4, 2008 at 11:48 am

I actually enjoyed this movie a lot.

all of the people that are offended by the ”vulgarity”, rudeness, racism etc- that is exactly the point of the movie. They are not making fun about the issues per se, but the exploitation of the therms. I know it might be a lot to grasp for some, but they actually make fun of the cliche of hollywood, war, racism, violence
and more, as a form of protest. it is an acid humor, indeed.
In a mass media culture where we’ve pretty much ”seen it all” you have tons of movies that let you indulge in crude sex, violence and excess. They say they are master pieces just because they are extremely graphic and give people exactly what they want to see to calm their morbid desires. heck, just turn on the tv and watch the news to see a lot of things that are way worse.

to not feel offended by this amazingly funny movie you don’t only have to be open minded, but to be coherent with today’s reality.

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44 Diana September 4, 2008 at 11:48 am

I actually enjoyed this movie a lot.

all of the people that are offended by the ”vulgarity”, rudeness, racism etc- that is exactly the point of the movie. They are not making fun about the issues per se, but the exploitation of the therms. I know it might be a lot to grasp for some, but they actually make fun of the cliche of hollywood, war, racism, violence
and more, as a form of protest. it is an acid humor, indeed.
In a mass media culture where we’ve pretty much ”seen it all” you have tons of movies that let you indulge in crude sex, violence and excess. They say they are master pieces just because they are extremely graphic and give people exactly what they want to see to calm their morbid desires. heck, just turn on the tv and watch the news to see a lot of things that are way worse.

to not feel offended by this amazingly funny movie you don’t only have to be open minded, but to be coherent with today’s reality.

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45 Lazarus September 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

It’s a satire. Some people don’t have the cranial capacity to process satire, much like Simple Jack. I c-c-c-can’t f-f-f-ffigure out w-w-whu-whu-whuts so funny ’bout this.

This film had me at hello. Downey JR should get an oscar but he won’t because, of course, he went full black. And if you find that offensive, you’re probably white and without a clue.

Tropic Thunder was brilliant, save the few moments when it stumbled back into action flick territory. Buying the DVD and letting the kids watch it.

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46 Lazarus September 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

It’s a satire. Some people don’t have the cranial capacity to process satire, much like Simple Jack. I c-c-c-can’t f-f-f-ffigure out w-w-whu-whu-whuts so funny ’bout this.

This film had me at hello. Downey JR should get an oscar but he won’t because, of course, he went full black. And if you find that offensive, you’re probably white and without a clue.

Tropic Thunder was brilliant, save the few moments when it stumbled back into action flick territory. Buying the DVD and letting the kids watch it.

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47 spencer September 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm

There are people who don’t get satire and they won’t enjoy this movie. I loved it. I loved Robert Downey Jr. keeping the black accent even when he was speaking Chinese! I didn’t notice that until the second time I saw it – when one of my friends insisted I see it again. I got some new jokes the second time around and came away even more impressed with the concept and its execution – very clever, very funny

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48 spencer September 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm

There are people who don’t get satire and they won’t enjoy this movie. I loved it. I loved Robert Downey Jr. keeping the black accent even when he was speaking Chinese! I didn’t notice that until the second time I saw it – when one of my friends insisted I see it again. I got some new jokes the second time around and came away even more impressed with the concept and its execution – very clever, very funny

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49 CarbonatedCube September 10, 2008 at 7:21 pm

It’s funny how racially sensitive we Americans are. I know a guy from Canada who married a girl down here. They were at a restaurant and the guy asked the waitress what ethnicity she was (she was Phillipino). After the waitress left, the guy’s wife was all like, “Why did you say that?” And he was all like, “What? What did I do wrong?” Because it’s not an issue in Canada. People can be genuinely interested and mature about that stuff without being called racist. If America gets REALLY screwed up, that’s where I’m moving.

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50 CarbonatedCube September 10, 2008 at 7:21 pm

It’s funny how racially sensitive we Americans are. I know a guy from Canada who married a girl down here. They were at a restaurant and the guy asked the waitress what ethnicity she was (she was Phillipino). After the waitress left, the guy’s wife was all like, “Why did you say that?” And he was all like, “What? What did I do wrong?” Because it’s not an issue in Canada. People can be genuinely interested and mature about that stuff without being called racist. If America gets REALLY screwed up, that’s where I’m moving.

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51 imeoN:IMDbAddict September 30, 2008 at 12:18 am

Eric, I love you man–I mean your review…I think Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the spotlight in Tropic Thunder. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much laughs while watching this movie, I thought it would be full of cheap laughs and flatulance jokes, but it was WAY more than that.

I don’t understand how people can say that the movie was vulgar and crude and that Stiller was mocking mentally disabled people, or christians or african americans. He was trying to show a very strong statement about people’s ignorance. So, I guess everyone making a huge deal about this movie being “controversial” really helped prove Stiller’s point.

This is the kind of movie that makes the statement “characters make the story/movie”, true. The comedic timing was perfect and the all the characters in the movie complimented each other very well, but I guess “Tropic Thunder” is one of those movies that you either love or you hate. I LOVED it.

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52 imeoN:IMDbAddict September 30, 2008 at 12:18 am

Eric, I love you man–I mean your review…I think Robert Downey Jr. completely stole the spotlight in Tropic Thunder. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much laughs while watching this movie, I thought it would be full of cheap laughs and flatulance jokes, but it was WAY more than that.

I don’t understand how people can say that the movie was vulgar and crude and that Stiller was mocking mentally disabled people, or christians or african americans. He was trying to show a very strong statement about people’s ignorance. So, I guess everyone making a huge deal about this movie being “controversial” really helped prove Stiller’s point.

This is the kind of movie that makes the statement “characters make the story/movie”, true. The comedic timing was perfect and the all the characters in the movie complimented each other very well, but I guess “Tropic Thunder” is one of those movies that you either love or you hate. I LOVED it.

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53 um... hi October 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

I loved it. Not entirely sure why even still. I am decidedly not a fan of current comedy ie: I didn’t like Anchorman, can’t stand Will Ferrell, haven’t liked anything of Ben Stiller’s I’ve seen – granted I haven’t seem much of the genre because I don’t like it as a rule. I saw TT I think 6 times. I went opening weekend because I’m fascinated with Downey, who I’ve always liked but since Kiss Kiss, Zodiac and Iron Man he’s gone on to another level of awesome. I’m an artist and I’m over 50 and female and I found TT just delightful. Sure there were a bunch of just-dumb gags and a chunk in there where the thing sagged quite badly … the ending was a pretty sappy..I wasn’t all that impressed by Cruise but I got a chuckle out of some of his performance. Obviously Downey’s performance was a big part of what I liked about it but he’s been the best part of a lot of pretty terrible movies. So what is it?

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54 um... hi October 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

I loved it. Not entirely sure why even still. I am decidedly not a fan of current comedy ie: I didn’t like Anchorman, can’t stand Will Ferrell, haven’t liked anything of Ben Stiller’s I’ve seen – granted I haven’t seem much of the genre because I don’t like it as a rule. I saw TT I think 6 times. I went opening weekend because I’m fascinated with Downey, who I’ve always liked but since Kiss Kiss, Zodiac and Iron Man he’s gone on to another level of awesome. I’m an artist and I’m over 50 and female and I found TT just delightful. Sure there were a bunch of just-dumb gags and a chunk in there where the thing sagged quite badly … the ending was a pretty sappy..I wasn’t all that impressed by Cruise but I got a chuckle out of some of his performance. Obviously Downey’s performance was a big part of what I liked about it but he’s been the best part of a lot of pretty terrible movies. So what is it?

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55 um... hi October 27, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Ok I tried to answer my own question.

some of my favorite things

Satan’s Alley: omfg it makes me cry tears of mirth. Love Toby’s payback to Downey for Wonderboys. So well acted – perfectly over the top and the tunes! With this at the beginning you have a lot of built in forgiveness for whatever comes next.

gorgeous cinematography: beautifully shot – the scene where they go in to land in the clearing where Cockburn looses his head – stunning! Aesthetics count!

Downey: enough has been written about his work here that I probably don’t need to elaborate much. His interactions with the other characters are a huge part of what I love. I love his action stuff too he’s amazing at it. The lead farmer scene, triple layers of characterization.

All those quotable quotes: My husband and I are still going around tossing these off to each other. “stop tailgating me ya pasty tea bag!” “I’ll cradle the balls (…) swallow the gravy” “I’m a lead farmer motherfucker!” “oo the crikey-fuck is ‘alf squat?” “playa!” the list goes on…

Brandon T Jackson’s awesome girl scream: when Speedman kicks the head.

Jay Baruchel: Loved the character and what he did with it. Loved the moment where Portnoy’s telling them about his obscure low budget skinamax thing and he goes “remember it?” and Sandusky nods like of course he does.

profanity: I kinda like swearing. It seemed like a natural amount of swearing to me.

End credits: not so much Cruise’s dancing, though it actually grew on me over the several times I saw TT, but the general energy of it. Very up beat the music and the great still shots rendered over reminded you of some of the great moments in the film and again the quotes. Leaves me in a very positive frame of mind toward the movie. Very well done.

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56 um... hi October 27, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Ok I tried to answer my own question.

some of my favorite things

Satan’s Alley: omfg it makes me cry tears of mirth. Love Toby’s payback to Downey for Wonderboys. So well acted – perfectly over the top and the tunes! With this at the beginning you have a lot of built in forgiveness for whatever comes next.

gorgeous cinematography: beautifully shot – the scene where they go in to land in the clearing where Cockburn looses his head – stunning! Aesthetics count!

Downey: enough has been written about his work here that I probably don’t need to elaborate much. His interactions with the other characters are a huge part of what I love. I love his action stuff too he’s amazing at it. The lead farmer scene, triple layers of characterization.

All those quotable quotes: My husband and I are still going around tossing these off to each other. “stop tailgating me ya pasty tea bag!” “I’ll cradle the balls (…) swallow the gravy” “I’m a lead farmer motherfucker!” “oo the crikey-fuck is ‘alf squat?” “playa!” the list goes on…

Brandon T Jackson’s awesome girl scream: when Speedman kicks the head.

Jay Baruchel: Loved the character and what he did with it. Loved the moment where Portnoy’s telling them about his obscure low budget skinamax thing and he goes “remember it?” and Sandusky nods like of course he does.

profanity: I kinda like swearing. It seemed like a natural amount of swearing to me.

End credits: not so much Cruise’s dancing, though it actually grew on me over the several times I saw TT, but the general energy of it. Very up beat the music and the great still shots rendered over reminded you of some of the great moments in the film and again the quotes. Leaves me in a very positive frame of mind toward the movie. Very well done.

Reply

57 Devin April 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

WOW, people are way too sensative… This movie was hilarious!! Tom Cruise was hilarious and so was everybody else in the movie.. get over it, movie was hilarious and if you took offense to the movie you need to get out more cuz yur obviously sheltered… but if you didnt like it, practice yur right to shut up.

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58 Devin April 17, 2009 at 10:14 pm

WOW, people are way too sensative… This movie was hilarious!! Tom Cruise was hilarious and so was everybody else in the movie.. get over it, movie was hilarious and if you took offense to the movie you need to get out more cuz yur obviously sheltered… but if you didnt like it, practice yur right to shut up.

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