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Hollywood Rewind | Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder is a hilarious take on Hollywood

Tom Cruise turned in what could be called one of his finest performances in Tropic Thunder as the maniacal studio executive Les Grossman. Aptly named. Sure, the performances helped the film's case but it was Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen's hilarious and witty screenplay which did the trick.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: September 24, 2019 6:21:12 pm
hollywood movies Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey feature as the main cast of 2008’s Tropic Thunder.

Tropic Thunder movie cast: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Steve Coogan, Bill Hader
Tropic Thunder movie director: Ben Stiller
Tropic Thunder movie rating: 5 stars

Action-comedy is everyone’s favourite genre in Hollywood. Studio throw in a buddy cop movie once in a while and generate a decent number at the box office. This is what definitely happened with the Ben Stiller directorial Tropic Thunder (2008). But what people had not expected from the film was it to receive critical acclaim.

Starring a bevy of actors like Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Bill Hader, Brendan T Jackson, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Robert Downey Jr and of course Stiller himself, Tropic Thunder was and continues to be a unique entertainer. ‘Unique’ because rarely do you get to see a film of its genre penetrate the conscience of the Academy. Downey had received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the fictional Australian method actor who plays a black character in the film within the film. Yeah, fun and meta, all at the same time. It broke the fourth wall when people had to look up the term on the internet.

The aforementioned part about the movie is just the tip of the iceberg. Tropic Thunder follows the story of a Hollywood director (Steve Coogan) who along with his cast and crew decides to shoot a Vietnam war film in ‘real’ locations but things go haywire when the actors and the team find themselves in the midst of actual chaos, facing real-time war-like situations.

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Jack Black is a comedic genius, and he fits his part to the T with his portrayal of Jeff Portnoy, an addict and a comic actor who is popular for his special brand of toilet humour. Filmmaker Ben Stiller, on the other hand, plays an Action Jackson who is vying for some critical acclaim with his new Hollywood project. However, the one man who stole everyone’s thunder was Downey, who plays Aussie method actor Kirk Lazarus in the film.

For his new war movie, Kirk decides to go under a ‘pigmentation surgery’ to accurately portray his character. The accent, the body language of Downey–which was most likely the filmmaker’s attempt to parody the archetype of the black actor in Hollywood culture–was brilliant, but of course was also a double-edged sword for obvious reasons. And this part of the movie was deemed problematic by a section of the audience.

Tom Cruise turned in what could be called one of his finest performances in Tropic Thunder as the maniacal studio executive Les Grossman. Aptly named. Sure, the performances helped the film’s case but it was Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen’s hilarious and witty screenplay which primarily did the trick, as good writing always does.

With lines like “Man, I don’t drop a character till I’ve done a DVD commentary” and “Everyone is gay once in a while, it’s Hollywood,” Tropic Thunder serves laughter like hot potato wedges, crisp and delicious. So if you have not watched it already, give this one a shot. And if you have, any day is always a good day to watch Tropic Thunder. If you are sad, you get happy. And if you are already happy, you just get happier. Solid deal.

You can catch Tropic Thunder on YouTube.

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