Posts Tagged ‘tropic thunder

06
Jan
09

Ten Faves from ’08

I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed.

 

If the question is, “What did I expect from the films of 2008?” my answer would be, “A better film year than 2007.” Not to say that 2007 was bad; the tail-end of it made up for most of that year. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of 2008.

 

“Indiana Jones 4” (aka “Indy Gets an X-File”) was ludicrous if not insulting. And speaking of “X-Files” the return of Mulder and Scully to the screen was warranted, but the story wasn’t. “Speed Racer” could’ve been more fun, “Prince Caspian” could’ve used more characterization and plot. “Untraceable” was among those movies that couldn’t have been saved, period.

 

However, it wasn’t all bad. “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” proved that superheroes can rule the day, if not the box office (although “Hellboy 2” was underrated). Pixar pixel pixies made mechanics emotional with “Wall*E.” Robert Downey, Jr. didn’t just make “Iron Man,” he made “Tropic Thunder” as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method-actor who undergoes pigmentation-surgery to portray a black Sergeant in Vietnam. And “City of Ember” was the best and most-overlooked kids’ movie.

 

In alphabetical order, here are my Ten Faves from ’08.

 

bank_job1“The Bank Job” – I caught this one on DVD. After I finished watching it, I kicked myself. This movie was interesting, fun, and a great throwback to the Seventies.

 

 

 

 

city_of_ember“City of Ember” – Thoughtful, well-made post-apocalyptic kids’ movie. I was surprised.

 

 

 

 

 

dark_knight“The Dark Knight” – This movie is entirely on a different plain of filmmaking. Kudos to Christopher Nolan on doing such a great job and to Heath Ledger, who gave one of his best performances ever (and his last).

 

 

 

 

hellboy_two“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” – Fun fantasy film from Guillermo del Toro. I really enjoyed this one. “Hellboy” is beginning to grow on me.

 

 

 

 

iron_man“Iron Man” – A great popcorn blockbuster movie to begin the summer with. Robert Downey Jr. was nothing less than perfectly casted. Jeff Bridges had fun being the bad guy.

 

 

 

 

leatherheads“Leatherheads” – Another overlooked movie. George Clooney spent years trying to bring this one to light. It’s funny, quirky, zany, screwball… and made football interesting.

 

 

 

 

son_of_rambow“Son of Rambow” – British indie about kids who learn to make film, not war. Great fun and a tribute to filmmaking (moreso than “Zack and Miri”).

 

 

 

 

transsiberian“Transsiberian” – Emily Mortimer steals this movie from Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. A great follow-up to “Session 9” and “The Machinist,” also directed by Brad Anderson.

 

 

 

 

tropic_thunder“Tropic Thunder” – I initially thought this was shallow at first, but repeated viewings on DVD make this one even better.”I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”

 

 

 

 

wall_e“Wall*E” – Wall*E is the story of the little robot that fell in love. Environmental and biological themes abound but don’t get too preachy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all, folks. See ya at the movies in 2009!

-Chas

15
Aug
08

Movie Review: Tropic Thunder

 

 

Get on da choppah!

 

Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr., Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConnaughey, and Tom Cruise. Directed by Ben Stiller

 

Before the movie even starts, we’re introduced to fake trailers for films the characters are advertising: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is an action movie star who has to save an Earth that has been cooled-over in “Scorcher VI: The Meltdown.” Jack Fortnoy (Jack Black) plays every character in a comedy about a family who lives together and farts together in “The Farties: Fart Two.” Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a monk having unholy carnal relations with fellow monk Tobey Maguire in “Satan’s Alley.”

 

The movie then starts with narration by Nick Nolte (who plays Four Leaf Tayback) who recounts a story about a group of ten guys who went into the jungles of Viet Nam: four of the men came back. Of those four, three wrote books. Of those three books, two were published. Of the two, one got a movie deal…

 

And so begins the story of the making of the most expensive war movie ever made.

 

After an opening that’s more than a whiff of “Apocalypse Now,” things go wrong. We’re slowly introduced to the characters: Tugg Speedman is an action movie star whose career is on the skids because of too many “Scorcher” movies, and “Simple Jack,” a box office bomb where he played a mentally handicapped guy who could talk with animals. Jack Fortnoy is a comedian whose renown for farting is only matched by his drug addictions (which includes sniffing glue). Kirk Lazarus is a 5-time Oscar-winning Australian actor who undergoes experimental pigmentation surgery to play the black Sergeant; he never breaks character “until the DVD commentary is finished.” Added to the mix is Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) a hip-hop artist who hocks his energy drink Booty Sweat as well as his protein bar, Bust-A-Nut. Last is Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), the nerdy white guy who did something none of the others did: he actually read the book AND the screenplay.

 

When director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) is threatened by producer Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) who wants to shut down the production, he turns to the sage advice of Four Leaf Tayback, who tells him, “you gotta put them in the real shit.” Jumping into a chopper the next morning the platoon, along with director, Tayback, and pyrotechnics guy, fly into the jungle. Cockburn tells them that they’re making it “real,” and that cameras are placed in strategic areas to give a gritty feel to the movie. After Cockburn steps on a landmine and blows up, the actors are by themselves with at least 3/5 of them believing what Cockburn said.

 

As they traverse through the jungle they’re spotted by the Flaming Dragons, an Asian heroin-producing faction. The group winds up separating and Tuggman eventually gets caught and tortured, then made to perform the entirety of “Simple Jack” (“Dodgeball” never made it to their video store?) The rest of the group now must band together and bring back Tuggman.

 

There ya go. That’s the story pretty much summed up. While everything that was funny was in the movie, the movie has points that are a lot funnier. Like when Tuggman kills a panda (inside movie joke). Or when Lazarus has the “never go full retard” speech with Tuggman. Or when Fortnoy is tied-up to a tree and wants loose, and describes what he would do for the person who helps him out. Or when Lazarus (who looks more like Rayden than a rice farmer) sprays bullets from a machine gun on each arm. Or even when Grossman yells into a phone, “I want you to take a step back and f- yourself in the face.”

 

Aside from the blatant ripping on “Apocalypse Now,” and “Platoon,” and shallowness of the characters involved, the underlying theme of it all is reality versus fiction. When even the guy who wrote the book the screenplay was based on is a fake, what is real? Where do the lines between fact and fiction lie? Then again, maybe I’m looking too deeply into it all.

 

While there are some general LOL moments, and some stuff I got that other people didn’t, I felt like I had ordered fast food as opposed to a full meal. Maybe I wanted a little more from the movie, or maybe I was over-hyped. Either way, it was good but not a lot more than surface level.

 

My grade: B

28
Jul
08

August 2008 Movie Releases

 

 

 

“The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” – Brendan Fraser returns and Maria Bello replaces Rachel Weisz as another adventure takes them to China where Fraser’s son unearths the tomb of the Dragon Emperor and his army of 10,000. Also starring Jet Li. Opens August 1, 2008

 

“Swing Vote” – Kevin Costner is the “average Joe-loser” who finds that the election comes down to his vote. Opens August 1, 2008

 

“Pineapple Express” – Seth Rogen and James Franco are the pothead and dealer who are on the run after witnessing a cop commit a murder. Opens August 6, 2008

 

“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” – Four lifelong friends parting ways but keeping in contact through a single pair of pants. Star America Ferrera. Opens August 6, 2008

 

“Tropic Thunder” – Take an action star (Ben Stiller), a comedian (Jack Black), and an award-winning Australian actor who undergoes surgery to appear “black” (Robert Downey, Jr.) and have them make a war movie by dropping them in the middle of a REAL war. The trailer is hilarious. Opens August 13, 2008

 

“Henry Poole is Here” – Luke Wilson is Henry Poole, a man who has given up on life until his neighbor finds the face of Jesus in his stucco. Also stars Radha Mitchell, George Lopez, and Cheryl Hines. Opens August 15, 2008

 

“Mirrors” – Val Kilmer (where’s he been?) plays a security guard whose life is turned inside out when mirrors in the place he’s guarding have supernatural demons. Opens August 15, 2008

 

“Star Wars: Clone Wars” – George Lucas milks the Star Wars cash cow again but this time through the Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Anakin and Obi Wan have a new adventure, this time during the infamous Clone Wars. Opens August 15, 2008

 

“Vicky Christina Barcelona” – Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson) are sisters who go to Barcelona, where they meet an artist (Javier Bardem). Bardem seduces them and when his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) shows up, things really get out-of-hand. Opens August 15, 2008

 

“The Rocker” – “Office” star Rainn Wilson is a former rock drummer-be who fills in for a high school kid after he’s suspended. Alrighty then. Opens August 20, 2008

 

“Death Race” – Briton action star Jason Statham is a NASCAR driver who is framed for the death of his wife. Punishment: he’s sent to a prison where the female warden cuts him a deal. If he can survive a no-holds-barred souped-up muscle car race, then he’s free to go. But will the warden let him survive? Also stars Ian McShane. Opens August 22, 2008

 

“Hamlet 2” – Where do I start? Steve Coogan is a failed actor turned high school drama teacher. When the school threatens to cut the drama program, he creates the play “Hamlet 2” (there’s a time machine involved). What follows is zany madness, complete with a your usual hijinks and a musical number called, “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” Also stars Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, David Arquette, and Elisabeth Shue. Opens August 22, 2008

“House Bunny” – Formerly titled “I Know What Boys Like,” Anna Farris is a playmate kicked outta Hef’s place and winds up in a sorority. And that would happen because…? Opens August 22, 2008

 

“Traitor” – Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce in a tale of mystery, intrigue, and espionage. Opens August 27, 2008

 

“Babylon A.D.” – Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh in a sci-fi movie where he has to escort her because her body contains an organism that a cult believes will create the new Messiah. Ov vey. Opens August 29, 2008

“College” – Three best friends in high school check out a college. Been there, seen that. Opens August 29, 2008

 

“Disaster Movie” – Those guys who brought you “Epic Movie” and the like are at it again. Please stop them. Opens August 29, 2008