By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
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There’s something almost endearing about a comedy that knows how truly offensive it is, and doesn’t apologize for it. I really enjoy films that feel the need to challenge the norm and aren’t afraid to be politically incorrect. A few months before the film came out, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the film; particularly Robert Downey Jr. was shown to be playing a black guy. About 1 year after the controversy started, he got several nominations for his performance, including an Oscar and Golden Globe. It just goes to show that when a film tastefully pushes the bounds of tastelessness, it sometimes gets rewarded.

Tropic Thunder, is very, very, very loosely based around the idea of the infamously disastrous shooting of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. It follows a group of actors who are told by the studio that in order for the war film they are working on to be a hit, they need to go and shoot some real footage out in the middle of nowhere. However, they accidentally get dropped off right in the middle of the territory of a major drug cartel who believe the actors are fearless soldiers.

This film does take some elements that will seem familiar to those who watch a lot of movies, such as The Man Who Knew Too Little, but this film manages to stand out for several reasons. The biggest reason is that this film is gleefully and cheerfully offensive. It’s often violent, grotesque, and savage. However, this film goes so far beyond the line of good taste that it somehow manages to work itself back into good graces. It also helps that the filmmakers, much like Trey Parker and Matt Stone, know that their making something offensive, but go in boldly anyway.

This film also contains some of the most honest and scathing Hollywood satire I’ve seen in a long time. It’s so great to see a movie that actually pokes fun at the industry backing it, and it’s so refreshing when the satire is this cruel. This is exemplified in an unrecognizable Tom Cruise’s hilarious performance as Les Grossman, a studio exec with some huge anger problems.

Underneath the film’s often vile exterior though, the film is actually very smartly written. For example, the film mocks the stupidity of Hollywood trends by starting off with fake trailers that mock those trends, and you might even be tempted to think that they might be real movies. And the film just goes uphill from that moment of brilliance.

Ben Stiller is to be commended for having a huge hand with this film, having co-written the script and directing it, in addition to starring in it. He knows how to make each individual joke funny, and even shows that he knows how to set up an action set piece.

All the performances are great in this film, there’s not a single bad actor amongst the ensemble. Though Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise do stand out, everyone else is at exactly the same level, and everyone does a good job of being funny without resorting to mugging for the camera.

However, what seals the deal for me is just how funny it is. This is a very funny movie. There’s really no other way to say it. Some people will be put off by how cruel, violent and politically incorrect it is, but I think that the best comedy is usually done through pushing the boundaries of good taste. For someone like me though, I thought it was refreshing to see a comedy this violent and shocking, and it never loses its tough edge.

Rating: 10/10

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