Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Thoughts on "Tropic Thunder"

I'll admit, I was slightly disappointed by Tropic Thunder. I liked it and thought it was quite funny, but I thought it lagged behind David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express in nearly every way.

Tropic Thunder is an incisive Hollywood satire, but I never thought it was quite as funny as Pineapple Express. I know it's not really fair to compare two such dissimilar films in this manner, but having just seen Green's comedy and laughed myself silly for nearly the whole running time, and finding myself only chuckling mildly at Tropic Thunder and laughing out loud only a few times, I have to say that Pineapple Express is ultimately more successful in its goals.

The difference is that Tropic Thunder shoots for something bigger, it takes on Hollywood idiosyncrasies and exposes them for the lunacy that they are. Pineapple Express' goals are much simpler, and therefore it achieves them with greater ease. Tropic Thunder works, but I always had the feeling that it could have worked better. It has moments of great comic inspiration and truly funny commentary on the current state of Hollywood, but there are quite a few lulls where it doesn't quite connect as well as it should.

I know that it sounds like I didn't like the film, but I did. It's a three star effort...on the lower end of the rating but a three star effort nonetheless. It shoots for something a bit more than the average comedy, and that must be taken into account even when it doesn't always hit the mark.

Robert Downey Jr's performance as the pretentious Australian actor Kirk Lazarus, who undergoes a cosmetic procedure to make him resemble an African American - continuing a stellar year for the actor. The numerous cameos from various celebrities are also a highlight.

It may grow on me in the coming weeks, but I think I'll go see Pineapple Express again before revisiting this. It remains for me the funniest movie of the summer, while Tropic Thunder is going to have to settle for second.

5 comments:

Graham said...

While I preferred Thunder to Pineapple, comparing them is not just valid, but almost necessary. Hollywood released two meta-comedies within a week of one another, one from the current master of comedy (Apatow et al) and one from the previously dominant paradigm (Stiller and company). That just screams comparison.

I thought both Pineapple and Tropic were very strenuous in their attempts at humor, but while I expect and enjoy that from Stiller, and give him lots of slack, I expect something a little tighter from Rogen and Apatow. Still funny, but I didn't laugh that much, and the action parodies lagged.

Matthew Lucas said...

That's an interesting way to look at it, as an old vs. new sort of thing. I've never thought Stiller was that funny, prefer Apatow's films in general, although he's had a string of recent duds like DRILLBIT TAYLOR and STEPBROTHERS...his successes have been stellar - THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, KNOCKED UP, SUPERBAD.

I think people may be tiring of his name, but he's got a good eye for comedy.

Jaccstev said...

Tropic Thunder is an instant comedy classic and will have you laughing out of your seats a bunch of times, it is better and funnier than Pineapple Express & Step Brothers in my opinion. Ben Stiller being Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr. stealing the show, Tom Cruise's funniest role of his entire career, up and coming actor Brandon T. Jackson showing us everything from his arsenal and Jack Black finally being him old self at being very crazy and absolutely hilarious!!

Jess said...

I thought Step Brothers had a lot more laugh out loud moments and better characters. Stiller was just too much all the time.

Matthew Lucas said...

I liked this A LOT better than STEP BROTHERS, but I've never been a big Stiller fan. I think PINEAPPLE EXPRESS beats them both.