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Action movie star Tugg Speedman is on the downslide of his professional career. He wants to be considered a serious actor, but his latest serious role as the title character in "Simple Jack" resulted in negative reviews and ridicule. Comedian Jeff Portnoy is best known for his leading roles in sophomoric comedies, and may be less well known for his rampant drug use. Five time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus is a serious method actor, who immerses himself in whatever the role. On location in southeast Vietnam, they are the stars of "Tropic Thunder", based on Vietnam war veteran 'Four Leaf' Tayback's memoirs of his rescue during the war, that rescue which was considered a near suicide mission for the assigned army force and resulted in him losing both hands. For his role, Caucasian Australian Lazarus even went through a controversial surgical skin dying procedure so that he could convincingly play a black man. Production is not going well since rookie director Damien Cockburn is unable to control the prima-donna attitude of his three stars. Cockburn and Tayback decide that the five primary actors - Speedman, Portnoy, Lazarus, rapper Alpa Chino, and newcomer Kevin Sandusky - need to work together as a unit as did their real life characters. The five are placed in the middle of the jungle, and with only a map and their prop machine guns in hand, are asked to work together to battle through the stunt pyrotechnics in their way. What none of the seven of them know is that they have been dropped into a real life drug war led by the Flaming Dragons. It isn't until Speedman is captured by the Flaming Dragons and tortured that they all realize that what they believed was make believe gunfire and land mines was actually real life. As the four actors try to figure out what to do concerning Speedman's situation, all five go through their own journey of self-discovery. Meanwhile, the movie's megalomaniacal profanity spewing producer Les Grossman and Speedman's faithful agent Rick Peck argue about what to do about Speedman's situation. And Tayback inadvertently shows a little of his true self.
Sgt. Fourleaf Tayback is the author of the international best seller "Tropic Thunder" detailing his accounts of the Vietnam War. Now that book has been turned into a movie. Directed by first time director Damian Cockburn, the film stars veteran action hero Tug Speedman, multi - character comedy actor Jeff Portnoy, star of the "Fatties Fart II" (more famous for his off camera drug addiction arrests than his acting), and three time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (famous for his total immersion style of acting) - fresh off his most recent Cannes film festival smash. Rounding out the cast is character actor Kevin Sandusky and rapper Alpa Chino, who in his spare time, hawks an energy drink known as "Booty Sweat". When filming the movie's climactic scene goes horribly awry with a pyromaniac blowing up the Vietnamese jungle side off camera, the film's director, with convincing from executive producer Les Grossman, and Sgt. Tayback himself, decide to take the film in a much different direction. Now shooting the movie guerrilla style, the actors are taken deep in the jungle. There, Cockburn is killed by a landmine, and Speedman is kidnapped by ruthless drug lords who are enamored with his box office flop "Simple Jack". The rest of the crew then has to band together to save Speedman - who are convinced they are a real army. Can they overcome their differences to become a real military unit, save Speedman, and win best picture? Or will they face the wrath of their hot headed, foul mouthed, executive producer?
&quot;Reality Bites&quot; director Ben Stiller has not only made a rambunctious R-rated parody of Vietnam war movies with his audacious, big dumb action comedy &quot;Tropic Thunder,&quot; but he also has ridicules Hollywood&#39;s obsession with such fare. Take all the &quot;Rambo&quot; sagas with Sylvester Stallone and then toss in George Hickenlooper&#39;s superlative documentary &quot;Heart of Darkness&quot; (1991) about the complications that Francis Ford Coppola faced on his magnum opus &quot;Apocalypse Now,&quot; and you&#39;ll have a good idea of what to expect from &quot;Tropic Thunder.&quot; Although Stiller and his top-notch cast play everything for belly laughs, &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; contains moments when it could pass for a genuine, straight-laced adventure outing. &quot;Iron Man&quot; sensation Robert Downey, Jr., overshadows everybody as five-time Oscar winning Australian actor Kurt Lazarus who has dyed his skin black to play an jive-talking, George Jefferson-type, African-American U.S. Army Sergeant. Superstar Tom Cruise makes quite an impression as a sleazy, gutter-mouthed Tinseltown producer whose favorite word starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet. Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Tobey Maguire, Mickey Rooney, and young Asian actor Brandon Soo Hoo in a bravura performance as the vilest little villain ever flesh out the cast of this imaginative, memorable, and sometimes controversial insanity.<br/><br/>Stiller opens &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; with hilarious trailers for fake movies that headline his stars. Stiller plays action hero Tugg Speedman in a series of &quot;Scorcher&quot; movies that ridicule franchises like Bruce Willis&#39; &quot;Die Hard,&quot; except that Tugg has run his course as a hero. Robert Downey, Jr., appears alongside &quot;Spider-Man&quot; star Tobey Maguire as a pair of promiscuous priests at a remote monastery. Jack Black mimics Eddie Murphy&#39;s &quot;The Nutty Professor&quot; movies with his own bowel-humored comedies about an obese family called &quot;The Fatties.&quot; Black plays each family member in a fat suit and delights in breaking wind at the least provocation. If these faux trailers don&#39;t offend you and you find yourself laughing until your sides split, what follows is even funnier. <br/><br/>Essentially, &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; unfolds as a movie-within-a-movie about Hollywood movie makers. Freshman director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan of &quot;Night at the Museum&quot;) plays a witless helmer who gets dressed down by action movie mogul Len Grossman (Tom Cruise of &quot;Top Gun&quot;) for not having his cameras rolling on a million dollar fireball explosion like the one that ignited &quot;Apocalypse Now.&quot; Damien wants desperately to redeem himself in Grossman&#39;s eyes, and burned-out Vietnam veteran Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte of &quot;48 Hrs&quot;) concocts a scheme that will help Damien win back Grossman&#39;s support. Ostensibly, Four-Leaf&#39;s memoirs inspired Damien&#39;s Vietnam extravaganza, and Four Leaf suggests that Damien take his cast into the jungle, rig up surveillance cameras to film them and then turn the guys loose. Not only will Damien be able to shoot the movie guerrilla-style for the least amount of money possible, but he also will get realistic performances from his pampered, soft-living cast. <br/><br/>Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller of &quot;Meet the Fockers&quot;) likes the idea because he hopes that Damien&#39;s Vietnam epic will boost his career out of the doldrums. Earlier, Speedman had starred in a &quot;Forrest Gump&quot; style movie called &quot;Simple Jack&quot; where he impersonated a mentally challenged, buck-toothed hayseed who claimed that he could converse with the livestock. &quot;Simple Jack&quot; crashed and burned at the box office, and Damien&#39;s movie represents a reprieve for Speedman&#39;s career. No sooner have these nitwits hit the jungle than everything goes haywire. What our heroes have no clue about is that the part of Southeast Asia where they have chosen to film is the bailiwick of ruthless Asian drug producers. A cigar-chomping, 12-old year tyrant, Tran (first-time actor Brandon Soo Hoo), and his heavily armed henchmen operate a secret factory where they manufacture massive quantities of heroin. When Tran&#39;s goons spot Tugg and his fellow thespians on cinematic maneuvers, they mistake the stars for the D.E.A. They capture Four Leaf and later Tugg and imprison them, while Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr. of &quot;Iron Man&quot;), heroin-addicted Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black of &quot;King Kong&quot;) and hip-hop wannabe Alpha Chino (Brandon T. Jackson of &quot;Roll Bounce&quot;) decide to imitate Rambo and spring their comrades.<br/><br/>&quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; qualifies as a goofy, gung-ho action comedy until our heroes encounter the villains and their heroin factory. Indeed, Tran and his trigger-happy thugs take themselves seriously. They prefer to shoot first and ask questions afterward. Nevertheless, it seems that these Asians loved Tugg Speedman&#39;s portrayal of retarded farmhand Simple Jack, and they coerce him at gun point to perform a one-man version of the movie while our dim-witted heroes plan an attack. Stiller and scenarists Justin &quot;Strangers with Candy&quot; Theroux and Etan &quot;King of the Hill&quot; Cohen spare nobody and nothing in their outlandish depiction of Hollywood gone wild. Robert Downey, Jr., and Tom Cruise steal &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; with their whacked-out characters, and Cruise skewers his &quot;Risky Business&quot; origins with a goofy dance as the end credits roll. Be prepared either for the worst or the best of everything¬ódepending on either your tastefulness or tastelessness with &quot;Tropic Thunder.&quot;
IMDb doesn&#39;t offer a low enough rating for this latest bit of drivel from Hollywood.<br/><br/>It might appeal to high school boys, but no person capable of rational thought would find it even moderately appealing. Tropic Thunder is an excellent example of why movies don&#39;t do well in the box office today.<br/><br/>Robert Downey&#39;s role was ridiculous to the extreme, and considering the cast of &quot;big names&quot;, I didn&#39;t see anything that remotely resembled &quot;acting&quot;.<br/><br/>The FX were ludicrous, the storyline non-existent, and the humor wasn&#39;t humorous. I&#39;m so glad I didn&#39;t spend any money to see this piece of Hollywood trash.
Those opening trailers are hilarious and devastatingly acute, but the rest of Stiller's film could be more a deconstruction of comedy than a display of it. The brain gets the joke; the ribs are untickled.
Tropic Thunder is based on an idea from comedian Ben Stiller, who also directed, co-produced, and stars in the film. It was adapted for the screen by screenwriters Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen. It&#39;s said that Stiller got the idea for Tropic Thunder while he was shooting <a href="/title/tt0092965/">Empire of the Sun (1987)</a> (1987) and became aware of how &quot;self-important&quot; some actors considered themselves to be when they were attending fake boot camps in order to prepare for war film roles. Tropic Thunder is meant to be a satire of other Vietnam War films, including <a href="/title/tt0091763/">Platoon (1986)</a> (1986), <a href="/title/tt0078788/">Apocalypse Now (1979)</a> (1979), <a href="/title/tt0093058/">Full Metal Jacket (1987)</a> (1987), <a href="/title/tt0093137/">Hamburger Hill (1987)</a> (1987), and <a href="/title/tt0077416/">The Deer Hunter (1978)</a> (1978). The connection to Apocalypse Now is significant because that film ran into delays, budgetary problems, and went well over its intended production time while director Francis Ford Coppola shot in the Philippines. The troubled production of Apocalypse Now has been much-written about and analyzed and was the subject of a documentary, <a href="/title/tt0102015/">Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker&#39;s Apocalypse (1991)</a>, produced by Coppola&#39;s wife, Eleanor. Yes, most are a combination of celebrities who have been known for one or more of the flaws that many of the movie characters have. Tugg Speedman has been called a younger Sylvester Stallone, Vin Diesel, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and/or Wesley Snipes. Jeff &quot;Fatts&quot; Portnoy is likened mostly to Eddie Murphy but also to Chris Farley, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen, Tom Arnold, and, to a lesser extent, it&#39;s a slight poke at Robert Downey Jr. with the references to the character&#39;s repeated drug arrests. Kirk Lazarus is likened to Colin Farrell, Daniel Day-Lewis, Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Robert Downey Jr. himself, Christian Bale, and Marlon Brando. With regard to Alpa Chino, take your pick of rapper-turned-actors. He&#39;s mainly a combination of Snoop Dogg, Will Smith and Lil&#39; Jon in regards to Snoop Dogg putting his name on everything, Will Smith taking on a major film role to help boost his record/product sales and Lil&#39; Jon having his own energy drink. Finally, Les Grossman has been likened to Hollywood producer Scott Rudin and also to Harvey Weinstein. Also Four Leaf Tayback seems to be inspired in part by authors Dick Marcinko and Tom Clancy. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Vaudeville theaters made common practice of employing Caucasian actors to portray Black characters in Minstrel Shows (an entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, which viciously lampooned blacks in disparaging ways, i.e. ignorant, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, joyous, and musical). The actors would paint their face using shoe polish or grease paint and play into the stereotypes of the time. After the Civil War, former chattel slaves or their free-born descendants, in the United States, began to appear in &quot;blackface&quot;, forming a number of Black-only Minstrel troops that rivaled the popularity of the early Caucasian performers. This practice continued in early cinema and has been variously viewed as ranging from &quot;comedic&quot; to &quot;racially stereotypical&quot;. Sort of. In terms of color, yes albeit only partly, and otherwise not. There is a drug called methoxsalen, marketed under the trade name Oxsoralen that can be used in this way. Author John Howard Griffin used it, but in conjunction with spending up to fifteen hours daily under an ultraviolet lamp, to darken his skin in order to investigate racial segregation in the South. He also used dye to cover the parts of his skin that were uneven. Griffin&#39;s experience is detailed in the non-fiction book Black Like Me (1961). Journalist Grace Halsell did the same, resulting in a book Soul Sister: The Journal of a White Woman Who Turned Herself Black and Went to Live and Work in Harlem and Mississippi (1969). Prior even to Griffin and Halsell, a journalist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette named Ray Sprigle attempted to do the same in 1947. This was before the advent of methoxsalen, so Sprigle attempted to deepen his skin color with walnut dye and iodine but eventually ended up suntanning himself darkly.<br/><br/>In the movie, however, the process Kirk Lazarus (<a href="/name/nm0000375/">Robert Downey Jr.</a>) uses is referred to in dialogue as a surgical procedure. At the end of the film, he removes his contact lenses and fake facial hair in the enemy camp, and later appears at the Oscars with his normal skin tone. Just one: Damian Cockburn, who steps on an old landmine and is blown to pieces. In the movie-within-the-movie that they were filming at the beginning, however, Sandusky&#39;s character gets horribly disemboweled, a fellow soldier gets shot in the head, and in the director&#39;s cut, a helicopter gunner is hit with a large piece of shrapnel. Aside from these, countless Vietcong combatants get shot down. &quot;Sometimes When We Touch&quot;, a late 1970s hit by Dan Hill. Before the actual plot progress begins, there are four in-universe advertising snippets (mostly unrated trailers) shown to introduce some of the main characters. (1) An advertisement for Alpa Chino&#39;s Booty Sweat energy drink and Bust-A-Nut energy bars featuring his hit single &quot;I Love The Pussy&quot;. (2) A trailer for Universal Pictures&#39; upcoming film &quot;Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown&quot;, once again starring Tugg Speedman in the lead role. The inclusion of this trailer parodies those of typical summer action blockbuster franchises. (3) A trailer for New Line Cinema&#39;s &quot;The Fatties: Fart 2&quot;, again starring Jeff Portnoy as America&#39;s favorite obese family. The trailer is footage of Jeff Portnoy breaking flatulence excessively in a French restaurant and is a hybrid parody of The Nutty Professor, in which Eddie Murphy portrayed every member of the Klump family, and Terrence &amp; Phillip from South Park, whose sole running joke is farting. (4) A trailer for Fox Searchlight&#39;s &quot;Satan&#39;s Alley&quot;, a film in the vein of Brokeback Mountain and starring five-time Academy Award winner Kirk Lazarus with MTV Movie Award&#39;s Best Kiss winner Tobey Maguire as two medieval monks who are romantically involved. The film was winner of the Beijing Film Festival&#39;s coveted Crying Monkey Award. There is no scene at the end of the credits, however, there is a scene at the end of movie that carries over into the credits. Many people have called this movie ironic for the fact that it is a satirical film, which is making fun of actors who are only taking on roles in films in order to win awards, mainly the Academy Award. (Such as Tugg Speedman taking on the role of Simple Jack, hoping to win an Oscar, and Kirk Lazarus getting plastic surgery in order to play the role of Lincoln Osiris.) The irony, however, is that actual Oscar buzz surrounded Robert Downey Jr.&#39;s portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, and he in fact ended up receiving a nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, when such was not &quot;intended&quot;. There was even buzz about Tom Cruise&#39;s minor role as Les Grossman after he received a Golden Globe nomination, though an Oscar nomination did not happen. &quot;For What It&#39;s Worth&quot; by Buffalo Springfield. This plays in the opening of the green-band trailer when it first plays out like a serious war movie.<br/><br/>&quot;Gimme Some Lovin&#39;&quot; by Spencer Davis Group. This plays in both the green and red band trailers when the three main characters are being introduced as &quot;The Action Guy&quot;, The Award Winner&quot;, etc.<br/><br/>&quot;Name of the Game (Clean Name)&quot; by The Crystal Method. This plays in both the green and red band trailers when the writer (Nick Nolte) tells Damian (the director - Steve Coogan) to put the actors &quot;in the trees&quot; (&quot;in the shit&quot;, in the red band trailer)<br/><br/>&quot;Sympathy For The Devil&quot; by The Rolling Stones. This plays (but is cut short) while the main characters travel through the jungle.<br/><br/>&quot;War&quot; by Edwin Starr. This plays in both the green band and red band trailers after the Vietnamese soldier spots the actors, thinking they&#39;re spies.<br/><br/>&quot;Awaking The Dragon&quot; (aka &quot;Sleeping With The Dragon&quot;) by RipTide Music. This is the &quot;epic action movie trailer&quot; music that plays when the trailer begins listing off the names of the three lead actors. The theatrical version of &quot;Tropic Thunder&quot; is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America. This version was later released on DVD as well as an Unrated Director&#39;s Cut. The Director&#39;s Cut runs more than 17 minutes longer than the theatrical cut and adds more story, dialogue and action to the film.
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