August 13, 2008

Tropic Drizzle

I viewed Tropic Thunder in the theater today. I'm normally not one for the goofy comedies (though Kung Pow! does hold a special place in my heart, as does the jingoistic Team America), but the trailers for this looked so good and I heard good buzz about Morton Downey Jr.'s performance as a white Australian actor playing a black American soldier.

It starts off great, with awesome fake trailers for movies the three main characters star in (plus a commercial for a 4th character's 'Booty Juice' soda and 'Nutbusters' candy). Then we see what looks like the end of the film, which is a nice parody of 'Platoon', which devolves into the offset problems very nicely. We get to know the actors a little better, all of whom play their parts well:
Ben Stiller as a fading action hero, and Jack Black as an overweight out-of-control comedian, the British director who's failing, the author of 'Tropic Thunder', Ben Stiller's agent in Hollywood, and the Hollywood producer (a stunning extended cameo by Tom Cruise).

With the movie-within-a-movie publicly failing, the actors are dumped in the jungle to capture a grittier, more real take...and manage to run into real trouble.

With such a great setup, somehow this film manages to get lost in the wilderness. What seems at first to be an ironic Hollywood spoof turns into an all-out parody partway through. So in the beginning you've got actor stereotypes in what seems like a real situation, but midway through it turns into one of those unbelievable comedies just short of the 'Scary Movie' genre as situations just get more and more ridiculous.

There are also a lot of character problems that develop in the middle of the film. Jack Black quickly devolves into a one joke sideshow, as the fat comedian who's going through withdrawl. Ben Stiller's character somehow gets lost in his role while being held in captivity for less than a day. And Morton Downey Jr.'s blackface performance, which is both excellent while managing to stay out of racially insensitive territory, gets dull as he seems to be the only one pulling the film along; it doesn't help that he mumbles most of his lines at a deep voice, at time's he's impossible to understand.

Perhaps my experience was ruined due the audio, which kept cutting out during action scenes. I actually had to leave the theater to complain, because the sound kept going out for minutes at a time. After alerting management, I was surprised that I had no desire to see how it all turned out...I simply left.

I can sum this movie up in three words: Last Action Hero.


Blogger Rothar said...

Looks like I'm not too far off the mark:

11:08 PM  

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