Even before the hilarious trailers for “Tropic Thunder” started to hit the airways, all I heard was how “great” the cameo by Tom Cruise was, and how it was a “real comeback for him” after two years of couch jumping and mouth drivel. Needless to say, it almost put me off from going to see the movie, but those television spots were just too perfect for me to say no to Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr., despite my annoyance for all things Cruise.
Stiller (who co-wrote and directed the movie) plays Tugg Speedman, a once popular action star who is looking for a comeback and that elusive Academy Award that is coveted by all actors.
He tried his hand by portraying a mentally impaired man with bad teeth and the ability to talk to animals in “Simple Jack,” but the movie was a flop, thus ending his Oscar hopes and making him the laughing stock of Hollywood.
To get back into the mainstream, he signs on to the Vietnam War movie “Tropic Thunder;” a non-fictional adaptation of John “Four Leaf” Tayback’s book on his own experiences in Nam.
His co-stars include newcomer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel); rapper turned actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); flatulent actor Jeff Portney (Jack Black); and extreme method actor Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.) who has won numerous Oscars.
Despite this being a huge budget war epic, the movie is placed into the hands of first time director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), who blows the shoot when the expensive explosives go off without him filming, as he is too busy yelling at his actors.
This gets him a wicked tongue lashing by studio executive Les Grossman (Cruise) and Cockburn turns to the advice of the unstable Tayback (Nick Nolte), who tells him to make their fear real by pitting them against the elements. Little does he know (or maybe he did?) that the actors would be landing in the middle of a drug war between heroin makers and smugglers and drug enforcement officials.
When Tugg accidentally kills a panda, he snaps a la Nick in the “Deer Hunter,” and is captured by the smugglers who torture him and force him to perform scenes from “Simple Jack” nightly.
In between fighting over the revenues of Booty Sweat (Alpa Chino’s energy drink), and why the white Australian actor Lazarus is pretending he is a black man just because he took his method acting too far; they decide to stage a rescue mission for the unhinged Tugg, even though it may cost them their lives.
In the case of most comedic movies that come out, the funniest bits are always in the trailers to get you to see it. So when you do, you’re unprepared for the lameness that is the rest of the movie, and since you’ve seen the trailers so many times, you’re not laughing anymore at the jokes.
Luckily, “Tropic Thunder” doesn’t fall into that category. It hooks you from the opening fake trailers for Booty Sweat and Devil’s Alley, and throughout the rest of the movie.
I know some were disappointed with how un-politically correct this movie is, but that stuff doesn’t bother me. The only thing that subtracted from my like of this movie was Cruise, who dances around in a fat suit with no hair and practically begs people to like him again. Although I must admit, he has this one great insult that I’ll be sure to use when the opportunity presents itself, but I’ll give the credit to the writers of this hilarious movie.
I gave this film a B.
Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.