Tropic Thunder (2008)

Generally speaking, movies about the inner workings of Hollywood and how fake the industry is usually don’t too well at the box office.  Sure, they’ll be critically acclaimed and such, but for the most part it seems that audiences don’t care about how movies are made, they just like the movies.  And most audiences like terrible movies.  How else can you explain a painfully average and boring film like Avatar becoming the #1 grossing movie of all time?  The championing of mediocrity and the higher cost of 3D movie tickets I guess would also be completely plausible reasons, but in my opinion it was just catering to the marketplace, and the market loves unchallenging shit.  Anyways, rant over, let’s talk about Tropic Thunder.

Directed and co-written by star Ben Stiller, it’s a sorta spoof of the movie industry that touches on numerous topics.  Endorsement deals, revenue streams, awards baiting, method acting, contract riders, all those and numerous other topics are touched upon, in some cases almost too spot on.  Robert Downey, Jr. actually scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who performs in blackface for almost the entirety of the film.  There was no way Downey was going to win, as this was the same year that Heath Ledger’s phenomenal Joker performance in The Dark Knight was released.  Still, props to the Academy for legitimizing that role of Downey’s.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot of the movie, because you’ve probably heard about it by now, and it just comes across as preposterous.  The strength of the movie is in the performances, and actors knowing their role and playing to it.  Stiller’s character of Tugg Speedman is probably the most on-the-nose role in the movie, and if he wasn’t surrounded by an able supporting cast, honestly, the movie wouldn’t be as good as it is.

As it stands, it’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it is highly enjoyable and one that certainly lends itself to multiple viewings (do yourself a favour and watch it with Downey’s commentary at least once, the man is a national treasure).

3.5 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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