Tropic Thunder – Not so funny?

Tropic Thunder PosterHey all…

I had a chance to go see Tropic Thunder this week. After the advertising blitz and initial reviews, I was expecting to laugh my backside off. Hoping to, actually. Did that happen? Not so much.

2 stars

Were there scenes that made me laugh? Sure. One-liners? Sure. But what set that off was the overwhelming feeling that they’d gone too far with some of the roles, some of the situations, and gone to extremes that didn’t need to be explored.

Here‘s the IMDB link.

There’s something about movies that play on stereotypes and extremes for me. Sometimes, you can play with stereotypes and be really funny. Mel Brooks made his career out of it. Look at Blazing Saddles or Spaceballs. Classic comedies that use stereotypes to the hilt, and yet can transcend them.

Tropic Thunder was an ambitious project. Let’s make fun of the industry that made us all big stars, within the context of a movie within a movie. I get it. It’s a great goal. Unfortunately, I don’t think it lived up to the hype.


Tropic Thunder 1Did I enjoy the movie at all? Well, I did laugh in parts.

Funny enough, the “retard” scenes that got the movie in trouble with various groups around the world didn’t offend me. I really enjoyed the scene with Robert Downey Jr.‘s character poking fun at Ben Stiller‘s idiot action star where they discussed their “craft”.

Some of the shock value scenes like [spoiler alert!] Steve Coogan‘s director character stepping on a landmine [end spoiler] were quite funny. It really set the tone for Stiller’s Speedman character.

Robert Downey Jr’s turn as Kirk Lazarus, decorated actor playing Osiris, was funny in spots. His line in the trailer — “I know who I am! I’m the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!” — is just as funny in the movie as it is in the trailer.

Tropic Thunder 2And I thought Jay Baruchel stole the show as Kevin Sandusky. It’s great when the geek actor saves the day.

But Tom Cruise’s performance as Les Grossman, gross movie producer… Not so much. Cruise was pretty disturbing in how aggressive and inflammatory he was in a fat suit. (His dancing was particularly alarming.) Maybe that was the point. But the Animaniacs did the whole powerful, super pain in the arse movie company executive to a T already (back in the 90s) and made it funny. Cruise went over the line IMHO.

Matthew McConaughey as the eager buddy agent to Stiller’s Tugg Speedman character was a bit much. But at least I had some respect for him.

Even Jack Black as the Eddie Murphy drug addict character pushed lines for me. Not because it was disturbing, but because it’s been done to death already.

And why Nick Nolte was in this movie other than for set dressing is beyond me.

This kind of ensemble cast is almost a waste of talent. The Dark Knight had a strong, well known group of actors, and they all contributed to that great film. In Tropic Thunder’s case, it was a mish mash of actors thrown together that just never gelled.

One positive about the movie — the soundtrack. It included some classic songs, including:

  • Ball of Confusion (Temptations)
  • Run Through the Jungle (CCR)
  • The Pusher (Steppenwolf)
  • War (Edwin Starr)

Ultimately, this was just an ok movie for me. I was disappointed that it wasn’t funnier. I did laugh in spots, but the over the top moments overshadowed them for me.

2 stars

So I’m just giving it 2/4. It was ok. Rent it if you’re interested. Or listen to the thousands of other people who’ve seen it and thought it was brilliant. I’m not one of them. 🙂

Until next time… Go see a movie!


p.s. My opinion wasn’t shared by many folks — seems everybody liked it. You can see some other reviews here:

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  1. You are dead on, as was Robert Wilonsky in the Village Voice. Unfortunately, too many other reviewers are afraid to point anything out about a movie like this because they don’t want to be on of the unpopular kids.

    But, you know what? America agrees with you. They are currently voting with their feet and Tropic Thunder is coming up short. And wait till the real word of mouth hits and this turkey sinks like a rock. Look for a huge drop off on Sunday followed by a 60to 70% hit next week. This film will probably lose 100 mil for Dreamworks when all is said and done because not only did it cost 150 mil, but I guarentee you Stiller gets gross points and I’m betting it is in the 10 to 20% neighborhood.

  2. It had to have had a huge budget to create this turkey. So I agree, it probably should lose money in the long run. I’m worried however, since if you look at the Seth Rogen comedies (I’m not a fan) and the number of people who think that’s great humor would probably view Tropic Thunder as the 2nd coming. I’m a fan of intelligent comedy. Juno was probably one of the smartest, sarcastic movies I’ve seen in forever. Same with Waitress. But I can’t say that I’ve seen that many comedies at the theater these days. I wait for DVD, then go — “yeah, that’s why I didn’t see it at the theater”.

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone on this one. 🙂

  3. Downey Jr. is an amazing actor. To go from Iron Man to Tropic Thunder took not only guts, but some serious acting chops. I just found Iron Man much more compelling than Tropic Thunder, that’s all.

    But I agree. He does have a knack for not taking himself too seriously. One of my favorite roles of his was Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. Amazing film.

  4. I totally agree with you! i was disapointed by this movie. it was a funny and bold concept, but it didn’t pan out well on screen. I thought that it would be hilarious, but unfortunatley it was only chuckling that I was doing. Also the people that I went with thought it was hilarious, but I just didn’t. I’m glad someone shared my opinion :)If you want to laugh continuously, see Pineapple Express, not Tropic Thunder

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