Tropic Thunder

For a wussy little art film snob like me, going to see Tropic Thunder – a big, loud, foul-mouthed action comedy about egotistical Hollywood actors fighting Southeast Asian drug lords during a film shoot gone wrong – is as out of character as my attending a football game. And I've never attended a football game.

So why did I bother with Tropic Thunder? Well, I was interested in seeing all its famous stars – most of whom (Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Cruise) I normally wouldn't pay to watch in a movie – do something different, something well beyond their usual shtick. So you have Stiller as an action hero, Black as a drug addict, Downey as an Australian Method actor pretending to be African American, and Cruise as a bald, overweight movie producer. All working blue, by the way – a nice change from their usual family-friendly personae (and probably a lot closer to their real selves; the only thing this film gets wrong about actors is that it doesn't show any of them chain-smoking).

I thought the story was well-structured and entertaining. There are some wonderfully nasty moments during the first half hour or so. Though the rest of the film didn't quite live up to the sharpness of the first act, I wasn't too disappointed, since this is not trying to be any kind of classic. But the cast is giving it their all, the movie doesn't look cheap or rushed, and if you like Hollywood comedies, you're sure to laugh a bit.

Me? I'm just not into Hollywood comedies. It isn't snobbery; it's simply that I have an odd sense of humor. (My appraisal of Bob Newhart as the funniest actor alive probably says everything you need to know about my taste in comedy.) So while I can't say I really laughed at Tropic Thunder's bravado, I still found it amusing. You gets what you expects here.