Sunday, 12 December 2010

Tropic Thunder goes out into the jungle with a few good jokes

The characters in Tropic Thunder are making a Vietnam war film, but it's not going very well. So the director sends them out into the jungle to do some 'guerilla style acting'. When the camera crew loses them and a real jungle gang turns up, some of them don't realise the filming is over. That's the premise anyway, and for the first half an hour it's very funny.The shooting of the film in a film is full of ideas, and the satirical take on Hollywood actors works well. Robert Downey Jr. is especially good, playing a method actor who's so immersed in the role he's changed the colour of his skin. It promises imagination, but when they set off into the jungle it quickly runs out of steam. You realise that all the quick, funny jokes from the first part are actually integral to the plot. In a better comedy something like a fake trailer for 'Simple Jack' would only be mentioned once to make room for the next joke. Here they repeat it until it's boring. Tropic Thunder rests on a few funny ideas rather than throwing hundreds at you. The whole thing gets stuck on a few jokes and a few locations. I wanted it to zip along. In the end it becomes what it was parodying in the first place. Too afraid to blow any of the characters up, it all gets a bit boring. It's one of those American comedies where all the actors are Hollywood buddies, just getting their friends to come in and have a cameo. They assume they're funnier than they are. Tom Cruise dancing in a fat suit is not funny just because it's Tom Cruise dancing in a fat suit.

I might sound like I'm being too harsh, but only because I'm disappointed. It didn't live up to my expectations, which might have been too high in the first place. It's okay, but I wanted the inventive, satirical comedy that I was promised. This promise may have been something I just made up in my head. If this ever appears on television, watch the start and then do something else.


  1. Does cinema even do inventive satirical comedy? It all tends to be about jamming a couple of actors together who were once considered funny, and then beating the audience over the head with blunt jokes not fit for a Christmas cracker. I can barely recall one comedy movie in the last ten years which I enjoyed. Bruce Almighty maybe? Sort of? Nah, who am I kidding.

    Tropic Thunder was way above average for its genre if that counts for anything. Robery Downey Jr actually got some laughs, that’s more than most of these movies manage to accomplish. They did nothing with Jack Black though, why is he even there?

  2. This movie has my favorite funny moment of all times--Ben Stiller's character, lost in the jungle at nite, turns on his phone to watch TV and on comes Captain Kirk wrestling a giant lizard.
    Maybe one has to be a Trekkie to think this is hysterical? I am, so I did.

    But yeah, after that (bout half hour in), you could skip to the end.

  3. Comedies are so hard. I think it would be really interesting to make up a list of comedies that weren't a disappointment - why don't you do that?

  4. Drake - I was confused about Jack Black too. Not sure why he's there.

    Fresca - The iPod scene only made me concerned about his battery life. These things don't last long in the jungle.

    Cheri - I'm trying to think of comedies I like, but, um, I'll think about that. Might be worth a list. Even if it's a short list.

  5. Thanks Chris, that saves me seeking it out - because I had exactly the same expectations as you when I first read about it.