Tropic Thunder

Tropic ThunderWe watched Tropic Thunder tonight. It wasn’t something I’ve been dying to watch, but all the clips I’d seen of Robert Downey Jr. sort of bumped it up a bit in my estimations. I’m not a Ben Stiller fan. Sorry, folks. He does nothing for me. So I’m not likely to be drawn to a movie because he’s in it. Robert Downey Jr.? One of my favorite actors, and one of the most under-rated in the business.
Anyway, it came on Pay Per View and we decided to get it. It was much better than I expected. Admittedly, I didn’t go into it with high expectations, but that’s beside the point. As light-weight comedy fare goes, this was pretty good. While I might not watch it again in the near future, I don’t begrudge the time it took to watch it (as with some other recent movies).
Robert Downey Jr. was amazing. There were times when I forgot he was an actor playing and actor playing a black man. What does it say that it was easy to forget that he wasn’t actually a black man? Or at least it was easy to forget it was Robery Downey Jr. His role as an Australian playing a jive-talking black man was just fun to watch.
Jack Black was… Jack Black. He was doing what I like doing most. Being Jack Black. I’ve always liked him in his comedy roles. At least not the painfully terrible ones like Dos Nachos (or whatever that movie was where he was a Mexican wrestler). I hated him in King Kong, but enjoyed him in School of Rock, and I enjoyed him in Tropic Thunder. The guy has a gift for comedy and should stick with it.
Ben Stiller was… Ben Stiller. That’s sort of the problem. I’ve never liked Ben Stiller. I don’t have anything against him as a person, but watching him act, to me, is like watching an over-reaching teen-aged thespian in a Little Theater production. I watched the first ten minutes of Starsky & Hutch and took it out of the DVD player. That’s pretty much the reaction I’ve had to anything Ben Stiller has ever done. Sorry, that’s just the way I see it. It’s ironic that he directed, produced and co-wrote Tropic Thunder, because he was the biggest distraction of the movie.
Having said that, I kind of liked him in Tropic Thunder better than I’ve liked him in other stuff. I think I just have the same physical reaction to Ben Stiller that I have to Will Ferrell. Whenever people gush about how funny he is, I just stare at them and wonder if they’ve taken a knock on the head. While we’re at it, add Adam Sandler to that list, as well (although my estimation of him greatly improved with Reign Over Me).
Overall, this is just not my kind of movie. I grew up watching The Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin. When I got a little older I discovered Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Cosby. What I enjoyed most about Tropic Thunder was watching Robert Downey Jr., because he reminded me of some of those great comedians that I grew up watching; someone who understands there can be subtlety and shades of meaning to comedy, and doesn’t immediately grasp at the first chance make a dick joke. Downey’s character was funny, whereas everyone else in the movie was just playing characters who did funny things. Believe it or not, there’s a vast difference between those two ideas.
As for the minor roles in the movie, I got a lot of fun out of watching Tom Cruise. He was great. And I liked Nick Nolte and Matthew McConaughey. This was just a fun movie that I don’t regret watching. But I don’t think I’ll be buying it on DVD any time soon.

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