Harry coughs up blood & intestines laughing at TROPIC THUNDER!
I’m not a particular fan of Ben Stiller’s. I think everybody has their favorite comedians. The comedian that they recognize a part of themselves in or that of a friend or family member. Or whose humor intrinsically speaks to them.
Ben Stiller just mostly annoys me. As a result I haven’t reviewed most of his films. I tend to like Ben in his short cameos, but his starring films… like MEET THE PARENTS, ZOOLANDER, STARSKY & HUTCH, DODGEBALL, MEET THE FOCKERS, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and THE HEARTBREAK KID… well, they just haven’t been for me.
It’s not that I hate him, I don’t find him painful to watch, it’s just he’s not really my cup of tea. So that has made my “Dying to see TROPIC THUNDER” urge rather odd. Why have I been dying to see this movie, that by all accounts, I shouldn’t care about? I mean, Ben is even directing the film and he wrote it – shouldn’t that make me triple disinterested?
Well – yeah. But TROPIC THUNDER just has so much going for it. It’s a big Action War Comedy. What a great genre! It stars Ben Stiller, but also Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr – two of my favorite performers of the day in which we reside. I noticed it also had Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte, Danny McBride, Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey and lots of cameos. The idea of a comedic film based on a crazed filmic event like APOCALYPSE NOW… what great material, even inspired. It’s like Pixar mining FITZCARRALDO for UP. Brilliant move.
At the Alamo Drafthouse – we had some fun before hand – we dressed up about 35 members of the audience – AICNers, Drafthousers and Paramounteers and ran them one at a time through a deadly Paintball gauntlet right into three paintball snipers… one of whom was me.
I can not possibly express how satisfying it is to shoot Massawyrm. The feelings of joy and satisfaction are unlike anything you can imagine. I wish I could claim I was the one that hit him twice in the balls, but I fear that was Alamo South Manager Kristen. I was hitting shoulders, arms and chests (as the safety folks told me to). Had I known it was Massawyrm – I would have been cruel and mean and certainly would have saved the world any potential offspring. Alas, I’ve let the world down – but Kristen didn’t.
Upon finishing up shooting the running ducks – it was instantly time for the movie. What a great time.
Even before the movie starts – it starts. And you will laugh. Because it’s funny. You’ll want Booty Sweat… so bad.
However, the film begins by showing us what little completed film footage had been pieced together. They seem to have shot the end first – the climactic rescue of Sgt 4-Leaf. This sequence is hilarious – wonderfully composed and violent as all hell. I mean GORE-Y – all caps. But ridiculously so.
When you finally pop out of the “movie” and into the “Hollywood” – you are stunned by how many people are on set. It’s the most populated set I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot of sets) Folks didn’t just have assistants, but entourages.
The level of incompetence on display is massive and when what goes wrong, goes wrong… you’ll be laughing, but kinda horrified. It’s the sort of horrifying waste that we all expect of large scale Bay-ified filmmaking, but Bay actually does manage to at least keep the cameras rolling on the big explosions (at least by my count – he has at least 5 cameras on the explosions, cuz we see the same explosion at least 5 times, right?)
After this we jump to a tabloid news program that introduces us to the main characters we’ll be dealing with. We learn that Ben Stiller is a massive action star – in the popped vein manner of Stallone or the finger pointing brilliance of a Harrison Ford. Only – like Harrison, he took a “Oscar baiting” role as a mentally challenged character – the results are beyond bad. Called the worst movie ever made – it was a near career killer – because it’s in such horrifying bad taste, that you really will want to watch the whole movie. I really do. And it is some of the absolute best funny funny shit that Ben has ever done. I was in stitches.
We get introduced to Robert Downey Jr.’s character of Kirk Lazarus – Kirk Lazarus is Robert Downey Jr – times a 1000. All the worst temporary bits of insane could give a shit behavior. He’s officially insane – I’d say slightly more Brando than Downey, but he’s still parodying himself… though for most of the movie he’s doing the most brilliant insane white Australian in black face trying to be a noble black man as he would imagine one… and it’s hysterical, mainly due to Brandon Jackson’s ALPA CHINO – a young African-American actor that is constantly offended at Downey – throughout… but more on that later.
Then there’s Jack Black. He plays Jeff ‘Fats’ Portnoy – He’s a parody of an actor like Jack Black, but who is making movies less like Jack, but more like Eddie Murphy is these days – and who has an addiction to “jelly beans” – and if you’re a bat – don’t even think about stealing his “jelly beans” – payback is a bitch. That said – for a bit of the film, I thought I hated his character – but by the time he’s tied to a tree and goes on a beautiful heartfelt monologue… I realized just how awesome this character is. You’ll agree. Trust me.
Ben Stiller’s Speedman is in some ways my least favorite character – it isn’t that Ben is bad. He isn’t. He’s really good – but when you look at every bit of casting in this film – the actor in question is satirizing who and what they are. They’re tearing at their popularized personas (as well as the personas like their own) but with Ben. Well Ben is satirizing the ACTION star. And while Ben is really beefy and cut in this film (very strange to look at) at no point would I believe Ben Stiller as a viable Action Star. That said – Ben is an utter badass as a writer and director on this film. He literally knocks this film over the back wall of the theater. But I would have loved to have seen (AB King please don’t email me about this) Stallone in the Speedman role. Someone like Harrison Ford. Hell – the ROCK or Vin Diesel would have been amazing. That said – Ben does not suck, he’s just not that type of actor – and I don’t know how well those other actors would have handled the genius of SIMPLE JACK… but it would have been hilarious to just watch it happen.
The film is immensely funny. In the battle of R rated comedies – this and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS – my personal fave is PINEAPPLE EXPRESS – but most of my friends prefer TROPIC THUNDER. And I can’t really argue against them – as this movie does indeed kick massive ass. We are lucky to have both of them within a week – and once they’re both in theaters – you literally have the most awesome double bill of the year. Just consider it a Danny R McBride double feature. He rules in both.
There’s also about 200 hundred awesome moments that I can’t touch in talking about the film. Suffice to say – this movie is not only a fantastic comedy, but one you will watch many many times when you buy the film for home use.
Oh and in the end credits don’t be surprised if you find yourself clapping for Tom Cruise. About half of our audience did. It’s because he’s a goddamn Xenu Alien civilization builder of epic proportions. (Translation – He’s a God)