Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tropic Thunder DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Controversial Ben Stiller Action Comedy Comedy Comes to DVD

You know you’re asking for trouble when you make a movie with a white actor in blackface wearing a lower lip extension who’s always talking jive jibberish, and with a mentally-challenged character who is repeatedly teased about his disability. Consequently, it’s no surprise that this comedy, written and directed by Ben Stiller, would stir up so much controversy.

Superficially, the storyline sounds innocuous enough. It revolves around a Vietnam War flick being shot on location. Early on, we learn that each of the film’s stars has his own selfish reason for participating in the project. One (Stiller) is trying to rebound from a poorly-reviewed picture. Heroin-addict Jeff (Jack Black) wants to overhaul his image after a kiddie hit filled with fat and fart jokes.

An Oscar-winner (Robert Downey, Jr.) likes the challenge of playing an African-American, while Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) is a hot hip-hop artist out to parlay his musical success into a screen career. Finally, there’s a virtual unknown (Jay Baruchel) who’s just happy to get his big break.

However, disaster strikes soon after their arrival in Southeast Asia, when the director (Steve Coogan) is blown to bits by a land mine. It turns out that they’ve been mistaken as enemy invaders by bloodthirsty guerillas running a drug-smuggling operation. So suddenly, these clueless, pampered Hollywood actors suddenly have to fend for themselves in the jungle.

This provides plenty of fodder for a surprisingly clever satire of the war movie genre. For Tropic Thunder is an intelligent and frequently funny film with some profound points to make about the shallowness of the movie industry. Unfortunately, those relatively-subtle insights are likely to be lost on those too busy laughing at all the slapstick and cruel humor coming at the expense of minorities to bother to appreciate the movie’s deeper message.

Very Good (3 stars)


Running time: 120 minutes

Studio: Dreamworks Home Entertainment

2-Disc DVD Extras: Filmmaker commentary, cast commentary: with Ben Stiller,
Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr., deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, video rehearsals, plus much more.

To see a trailer of Tropic Thunder, visit:

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