Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why I went to see Tropic Thunder - Part I

(It didn't start out this way, but this is turning into a three-part post. So if you find yourself getting upset with something I've said, I hope you will indulge me until the end. If you're still upset, well, we'll take it from there I suppose.)

I went to see Tropic Thunder last night. The theater was packed, the majority of the audience young guys, probably in their twenties, many with dates. There were also groups of girls sprinkled here and there. I saw a few "older" people, like, in their forties (we're so old), but not many. It was approaching 9pm, after all.

I've been following the call for a national boycott on most of the blogs that I frequent, as well as many of the excellent links provided by Patricia Bauer's website. I watched the interviews with Ben Stiller on Good Morning America and on Nightline, as well as watched the various reports on CNN concerning the protests. The editor of the online magazine that I just started contributing to also called for a boycott, as did all the other contributors. I read how the Special Olympics, ARC and many Down syndrome organizations support the boycott, and have even launched a new campaign to help bring an end to the use of the "R" word, as it's often called.

I've also read literally dozens of well-written, thoughtful, provocative and heartfelt posts on blogs that I subscribe to via Google Reader, many of them angry, others hurt, most just wanting to support their children, as I do.

But after seeing Tropic Thunder, I still cannot support the boycott. Nor can I sign a petition calling for a ban of the "R" word.

First, my thoughts on the film. I did laugh. It is funny. Robert Downey Jr. is amazing to watch, Ben Stiller's "straight man" comedic timing is spot on and Tom Cruise, well, his performance will haunt me for quite some time as he conjures up one of the funniest characters I've seen on the screen in a long time. Aside from his performance on Oprah, of course. But the film wasn't that funny. Not side-splitting funny like I've read in some reviews. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind, or was wondering how I was going to pay for Ian's hearing aids or maybe it was just after 9pm and past my bedtime.

And the satire? I'm sorta-kinda in the biz; I've worked with many local prima donna actors and producers. Shot some behind the scene footage on some low budget films. So I got all the film industry references, and they were mostly funny, but more "Yeah, I know someone like that" kind of funny. I got the references to big budget films, to sequels, to high-maintenance actors, etc. But the use of irony and parody were, well, a bit weak. The Family Guy is much better satire; it's tighter, smarter, more self-aware and sheds more light on hidden truths, which is what comedy and satire aspires to do. At least good comedy. The film's saving grace were the performances, the high budget feel and just enough laughs to keep you wanting more.

I give the film three out of five Rambo knives.

(Next: Simple Jack and "retards")


Anonymous said...

Gosh, you're such a ret . . . um, mentally challenged and developmentally delayed exceptional human being with limited function and specialized ability.

Chris said...

Hi, so I'm sending those few who read my blog your way.

Looking forward to hearing your take on the film!

So far, you haven't surprised me with anything you've said.

Looking forward to Part 2. Sounds like it is going to be the meat and potatoes post.

Just like you filmmakers to cash in on the sequels :)

Nick McGivney said...

Lol Chris. Well done Tom. Hope you snuck in. Making me REALLY want to see this one now, but I'm gong to have to wait until they release the Lego version on YouTube ho ho...

Anonymous said...

OK, I am coming back for part II.

I've always liked that you are a thinker and that you are honest about where you are at. It just makes sense that you would approach this TT this way.

Lisamaree said...

But were there any jokes about scientologists in the film industry?
(seriously, I'm interested to know)

Anonymous said...