During his early career, Ben Stiller worked on Steven Spielberg’s war drama “Empire Of The Sun” playing a soldier. He thought of an idea about actors filming a war movie, but unaware they’re caught in the middle of an actual war. Two Decades Later, Ben expanded his idea with the help of fellow actor/writer Justin Theroux. Thus, “Tropic Thunder” was conceived.
Tropic Thunder was released in 2008 alongside “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” It received critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. In addition to good reception, the film beat Star Wars at the Box Office. An extremally rare accomplishment. Thanks to his career comeback in both “Iron Man & Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” in the latter. The Heath Ledger ultimately won for his performance as Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
After going on a temporary hiatus, I’m back to write reviews during Awards Season. I’ve chosen my favorite comedy of 2008, because it pokes fun at Hollywood, actors and Oscars.
Today’s review contains no SPOILERS.
Yay & Nay Aspects
Yay: Ben Stiller. Robert Downey Jr. Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson & Jay Baruchel all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Other Cast Members such as Matthew McConaughey, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Nick Nolte, Tom Cruise & Steve Coogan all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Besides acting, Ben did a decent job directing. He also co-wrote the script with Justin Theroux.
Humor contains dark humor, pop culture references, mocking Hollywood and laugh out loud dialogue. Most of the dialogue is improvised.
Cinematography never had any glitches.
Practical Effects were heavily involved creating Set Pieces, pyrotechnics and gun battles.
Prosthetic Makeup transformed RDJ as Kirk Lazarus in character as Lincoln Osiris. I don’t think RDJ’s performance is racist. He’s supposed to be a parody of actors like Christian Bale taking method acting too seriously. Christian lost a bunch of weight as a frail man in “The Machinist.” The NAACP praised RDJ’s performance and they didn’t feel offended.
Tom Cruise wore a fatsuit, fake hands and a bald cap transforming him as Les Grossman. He’s unrecognizable. Tom reprised his role as Les at “The 2010 MTV Movie Awards.” As of 2021, no spin-off involving Les hasn’t been green-lit.
The film primarily spoofs the troubled production of “Apocalypse Now.” The aforementioned war epic lengthy filming is told in the documentary film, “Heart Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse.”
Other war movies parodied are “Platoon,” “The Deer Hunter” & “Full Metal Jacket.”
Fake Trailers (a la Grindhouse) featuring the main leads, indicates what you’re about to see will make you laugh so hard.
Tugg Speedman is based on 80s-90s Action Heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Bruce Willis.
RDJ reunites with his “Wonder Boys” co-star Tobey Maguire. RDJ later worked with future “Spider-Man” actor Tom Holland.
Kirk Lazarus is based on method actors such as Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis, Russell Crowe, Marlon Brando & Sean Penn.
Jeff Portnoy is based on comedic actors including Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Chris Farley & John Belushi.
At one point, Tugg’s agent Rick is playing Wii Sports. Nintendo Wii’s biggest game of 2008 is “Super Smash Bros Brawl.”
Kevin brought the PS3 and Xbox 360. My favorite game of 2008 besides Super Smash Bros Brawl is “Grand Theft Auto IV.’
The infamous conversation over Simple Jack became a meme. The movie did a jab at Sean Penn’s failed attempt to earn an Oscar for “I Am Sam.” Sean got the last laugh when he won an Oscar for his role as Harvey Milk in “Milk.” I would call the conversation as “Never Go Full Teen Titans Go.”
Tugg has a love for pandas. “Kung-Fu Panda” starring Jack Black also came out in 2008. Ben reprised his role as Alex The Lion in “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.”
Tugg watches a clip of “Star Trek.” Ben is a Trekkie in real life. He named his production company Red Hour Films after an alien riot.
Tropic Thunder introduced me to Flo Rida’s “Low.” It was also used in “Step Up 2” & “Zookeeper.”
A bat snatches a stash of drugs. Speaking of bats, “The Dark Knight” & “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” both came out in 2008.
Lance Bass is mentioned. His pal Justin Timberlake co-starred in Mike Myers’ clunker “The Love Guru.”
The terrorist organization is called, “Flaming Dragon.” A possible reference to the “Mortal Kombat” logo. Sounds like Ben is a fan of the video game series.
A scene spoofs “Saving Private Ryan.” Steven Spielberg and his bestie George Lucas made the biggest disappointment of 2008 known as “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.”
“Rambo” is mentioned. The fourth film also came out in 2008.
Famous people including Tobey Maguire, Lance Bass, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Bateman, Tyra Banks & Jon Voight make cameo appearances.
A Dance Scene is shown during The End Credits. DreamWorks is known for ending a movie with a dance party. “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Megamind” etc.
Nay: I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless movie as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Without a doubt, Tropic Thunder is one of my favorite comedies of all time. An actual parody, “Disaster Movie” & “Meet The Spartans” don’t count. I think this movie is Ben Stiller’s best work as an actor and director. If you’re bored, I strongly recommend this movie.