Monday, August 18, 2008

Jason watches "Tropic Thunder"

And it's funny--really fucking funny in parts. So funny in parts, that the unfunny parts are even flatter in comparison. It veers from comedy to action, trying to have both without fully committing to either. In that way, it feels a little like Ben Stiller's earlier film, "The Cable Guy", which tried to play Jim Carrey both funny and scary. Stiller famously filmed a "scary take" and a "funny take" of every scene in that movie, and then edited them together somewhat haphazardly (for the record, I still liked "The Cable Guy" despite it's flaws. And for the further record, "Tropic Thunder" is much better than "The Cable Guy"). It makes me wonder if there's a "funny take" and an "action take" of every scene in "Tropic Thunder".

Anyway, you can find plot synopses and (generally rave) reviews everywhere. Much has been made of the all-star cast and especially Robert Downey Jr's blackface performance, and he is pretty amazing. But I have to say (and I never thought I'd write this) that Tom Cruise is actually the best thing in this movie (and unrecognizable under old man makeup playing the foul-mouthed cruel bastard studio executive).

Going back to Downey Jr's blackface performance, it's well handled as a parody of method acting and Hollywood's historic (and continuing) treatment of minorities--both as characters and as actors. In fact, from what I've read it's generally been accepted positively by African American leaders. Same is not true of the mentally disabled. Stiller's character made a movie called "Simple Jack" where he played a mentally disabled character. Despite being Oscar-bait, it failed to connect with audiences or critics, and becomes the source of many "retard" jokes. Although it's parody of Hollywood cliches in much the same way as Downey Jr's performance, it has prompted protests from mentally disabled advocacy groups. This just goes to show what I've said all along--black people are much, much smarter than retards.

I should probably stop now.

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