Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Ben Stiller's fantastic war-movie/Hollywood satire TROPIC THUNDER hits DVD today. It's well worth renting (if you haven't seen it) or buying (if you saw it and enjoyed it like I did).

Here's a link to my original review:


The film was released this past August to mostly positive reviews (83% overall at Rottentomaotes with an 83% cream of the crop rating) and very solid box office ($110 million domestic).

This is one of the funniest movies of the year, as well as the decade. I never thought Stiller would top ZOOLANDER but he did with TROPIC THUNDER.


Joel said...

To tell you truth, I hated "Zoolander." But "Tropic Thunder" is pure brilliance the whole way through. I hope Downey Jr. (and possibly Tom Cruise) gets a nomination.

Actionman said...

You did't like/love Zoolander?! How can that be? I fucking LOVE that film; I watch it at least once or twice a year. It never gets old to me. Will Ferrell is fucking priceless in that film as Joqabim Mugatu.

Tropic Thunder was hilarious, both in a deeply silly way and a deeply smart way. The evisceration of Hollywood that's on display in TT is sublime.

Actionman said...

And Tom Cruise STOLE the show.

Joel said...

I've seen "Zoolander" twice. The first time, I thought it was...strange. I was somewhat beguiled with what I saw, though, so I saw it again a year later and it didn't hold up. I didn't laugh the second time.

I don't think people really connect Ben Stiller with "The Cable Guy," a comedy I cherish. It's among the strangest comedies (that work) I've ever seen. Jim Carrey's remembered for it, but Stiller should be the central guy here. I really loved that comedy.

I'll comment on "Tropic Thunder" on my next comment...

Actionman said...

I also loved The Cable Guy. Loved it when I saw it opening night and have enjoyed re-watching it over the years.

Joel said...

...right here.

"Tropic Thunder" is a comedic masterpiece, the best satire this decade (though I haven't seen "Borat" yet), and along with "Dr. Strangelove," one of the best of all time. It's classic in the making, lightning in a bottle, or whatever else seems like hyperbole but blessedly isn't. (Another reason why I don't think that "Zoolander" is all that. Stiller stepped horribly wrong with that film. Again, my opinion.)

What Stiller did--all by himself, no less--was this: He wrote the original screenplay (before Etan Cohen and Justin Theroux came in), directed it with the vision of a professional like Spielberg or Scott, and gave an overlooked lead performance that I find one of the best of the year. He even hired the great cinematographer John Toll (who did "Legends of the Fall," "Braveheart," and "The Last Samurai") and fantastic production designer Jeff Mann (who did "Transformers" and 2003's best summer blockbuster "Terminator 3") to create a PROFESSIONAL production with the feel of an actual war film that just happens to also be a comedy.

Robert Downey Jr. gave the Heath Ledger of comedic performances this year. By that, I mean that it's a performance perfectly balanced between ribald and powerful. Downey Jr. didn't just make Kirk Lazarus one of the great comedic characters of the decade; he made Kirk Lazarus in turn make Sergeant Osiris a believable (if mildly over-the-top) drill sergeant. That doesn't happen very often. At all, actually.

Tom Cruise has lagged recently, and his role as Les Grossman was a comedic powerhouse. You're shocked, appalled...and laughing your freakin' head off. But, as with Downey, Cruise added extra layers to Grossman that went beyond "foul-mouthed producer." The way that Stiller and his cowriters wrote the role, as well as how Tom Cruise played him, gave him a twisted humanity. The language just added to the character.

I've always said that laughs aren't always from out of the mouth. They can be verbal AND nonverbal. That's why I think "Tropic Thunder" has at least 400+ "laughs." It was literally comedic perfection.

It's also why "Zoolander" faulted. The laughs in "Tropic Thunder" are ones that you read on iMDB and then laugh and laugh and laugh...looking at "Zoolander"'s quotes doesn't really phase me (except the part about the "school of ants" that always gets me).

Actionman said...

We'll have to agree to disagree on Zoolander.

Though I do agree with pretty much everything you say about Tropic Thunder.

However...I have one major question...how in the hell haven't you seen Borat yet? That film is funnier and has sharper satire than Tropic Thunder -- for sure.

Joel said...

I was a BIT too young to see it when it came out (according to my parents :P), but a friend of mine who did see it said it was "foul, offensive, vulgar, and absolutely freakin' hilarious." So, as that is undeniable praise.

I have seen sequences from the movie (the "feminism" scene and "talk black" scene) that were amazing. That Sacha Baron Cohen didn't get an Oscar nomination (after WINNING the Globe, no less) is a travesty. It looks like an amazing performance.

Again, lots to see.

Joel said...

I watch-a a LOT "Borat" clips today and yesterday. Absolutely the funniest thing ever.

As utterly offensive as it is, his song "Throw the Jew Down the Well" is actually well-done. And really really really funny.

Something about Sacha Baron Cohen's delivery of each line, almost childishly innocent yet smart at the same time, reminds me of Weird Al Yankovic's comedic creation Fred Huggins, the demented, psychopathic kid's show host from his sadly failed TV show. Here's a 5.5 minute compilation of everything Fred Huggins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmDAED-wcRM If you think of shows like "Mister Rogers," you'll get what Weird Al is skewering here. He's a genius. Wouldn't be surprised if he "interviews" Borat at some point much like he interviews K-Fed and Eminem. That would be amazing to me.

Anyway, sorry about that...back on Borat. The nude scuffle with Azamat is one of the most fall-down, rip-roaring things I've ever seen. Cannot wait to see the entire movie. Borat seems like the most lovable anti-Semitist ever.