Rating: 3 stars
Never has the expression “no guts, no glory” been more apt than in describing the new comedy Tropic Thunder.
The film demonstrates tons of guts—it has one character in blackface, another making fun of a mentally disabled man, and yet a third who is a vulgarian Jewish film executive. (What, no jokes about killing pandas? Oh wait. . .it has that, too.). With those risks comes a fair amount of glory. When Tropic Thunder is funny, it is awesomely so. However, when it fails, everyone involved looks like a bunch of schmucks.
Directed and co-written by Ben Stiller (who also stars), Tropic Thunder depicts a film crew making a war movie in Vietnam. Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, the fading action star hoping for big screen legitimacy. Jack Black plays Jeff Portnoy, a comic actor (and closet crackhead) best known for farting on cue. Most famously, Robert Downey Jr. plays Australian method actor and multiple Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus, who undergoes a “controversial” skin-dying procedure to play a black sergeant.