- Released Internationally on 13/08/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 24/09/08
In a nutshell
In this big-budget action-comedy, three actors with huge egos set out to make the most-expensive war movie ever made. But once they’re deep in the jungles of their exotic location, they realise that this isn’t your everyday movie production.
Why we’re hyped
This is the movie that managed to knock The Dark Knight off the top of the US box-office ladder after four weeks of impressive business. Boosted by a lot of good press for its comedic performances, this all-star cast and crazy concept seem to have resulted in the best comedy of the summer.
Who’s in it?
Ben Stiller (who also directed and co-wrote the script), stars as the biggest action-star alive, and as we’ve seen in his numerous comedies over the years, when he’s not playing a hapless loser (Meet the Parents, There’s Something About Mary), he’s wonderful at playing over-the-top characters to whom humility is a foreign concept (Dodgeball, Zoolander). Which is why he’s probably written this character for himself. Robert Downey Jr., fresh from another of this summer’s huge successes (Iron Man), plays the potentially controversial role of an Australian method actor who will do anything to get his parts right, including undergoing surgery to play a black soldier in the war movie they’re filming. The starring trio is rounded off by Jack Black, who also undergoes a change of look – he’s sporting a blonde crew-cut – to play a comedian who thinks he’s much funnier than he actually is. Amongst the minor roles we find Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey and an appearance by Tom Cruise that might surprise you.
The greatest war movie(s) ever made
Tropic Thunder’s opening shot shows helicopters flying over the Vietnam jungle, and is very obviously intended to remind you of Apocalypse Now. They land, a breathtaking action sequence ensues, and within ten minutes Ben Stiller has paid not-too-subtle homage to Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. The references keep coming, and before long you will probably be reminiscing about Rambo and The Thin Red Line, or indeed any other war movie you may have watched. There’s even a direct musical reference to the Vietnam scenes from Forrest Gump. You don’t need to be Francis Ford Coppola to realise that this is the ultimate war movie satire.
Behind the scenes
But rather than make a simple movie spoof, which as we have seen recently is easier to mess up than pull off, Stiller has crafted a ‘film-within-a-film’ scenario where we get to see these big stars trying to make a great movie, trying to boost their career, and trying to get award recognition. The action goes back and forth between the dense jungles on set and the swanky Hollywood offices where the movie deals are dealt, and the result is a satisfying satire of the whole celebrity culture, rather than of those war movies they’re trying to emulate.
The stars are out
Apart from the all-star cast, the film is peppered with celebrity cameos which help add to the whole Hollywood aura, and at times it feels like we’re watching a movie special on E! Channel. The most extensive of these minor roles goes to Tom Cruise, who gets to play someone rather different from his usual characters, and although he overdoes it at times, it’s still fun to watch. Robert Downey Jr. is wonderful as the Australian method actor posing as a black soldier, as is Nick Nolte in the role of a brooding, scarred war-veteran whose story they are trying to turn into a blockbuster. Definitely original, and a fun concept to watch unfold, although I expected it to be funnier.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/tropicthunder/ (High-Res Quicktime)