Friday, September 05, 2008
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Just when Alan Smithee thought Tom Cruise was irrelevant - his last palatable performance was John Anderton in Minority Report (2002) - he dons a fat suit and generates some of the most memorable comic moments in Tropic Thunder. Alan Smithee laughed hard when Cruise's Les Grossman finished a video conference and screeched at his assistant "Diet Coke!" The seductive dance he does for Matthew McConaughey's Rick Peck was so entertaining that he reprised it for the credit roll. For sheer gonads, the performance ranks with his inspired turn as motivational speaker Frank Mackey in the otherwise ludicrous Magnolia (1999).
It's easy to forget when watching Ben Stiller, Jack Black (and others) how good they are at what they do. The public tends to get bored with actors if they don't up the ante after a while. So the film, while very funny in parts, doesn't feel funny enough. A scene in which Robert Downey Jr. analyzes Ben Stiller's acting as he is being forced to perform for his captors is so clever, it makes one realize what is missing from much of the rest of the film. Still, with this many great actors all doing excellent work, one cannot say one didn't get one's $9 worth ($11.00 in New York City).
And while Alan Smithee thought Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as an African American platoon leader was inspired, the things he said were often not that funny.