A big loud ugly crude Hollywood movie

PUBLISHED: 14:45 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

Tropic Thunder (15) Director Ben Stiller Starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Coogan 107 mins Two star rating A big loud ugly crude Hollywood movie that is a parody of big loud ugly crude Hollywood

Tropic Thunder (15) Director Ben Stiller

Starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Coogan

107 mins

Two star rating

A big loud ugly crude Hollywood movie that is a parody of big loud ugly crude Hollywood movie - who exactly is the joke on here? Stiller writes and directs a film that seems to have grown out of his turn as a self centred movie star in Ricky Gervais' Extras. Here playing a failing action star who wants to revive his career with an earnest Vietnam film.

The set up is classic screwball farce - a group of innocents blundering around oblivious to the danger they are in.

After an attempt at making filming more realistic goes drastically wrong and the actors are stranded in the jungle, they are slow to realise that what they think is guerrilla film making is actually genuine guerrilla warfare.

The humour is certainly very dark in places but not remotely dangerous. A major Hollywood star turns up to play a bald headed parody of a foul mouthed venal Hollywood mogul but it is all a big cosy in-joke, a dig at an executive who has upset said major Hollywood star.

While Extras had some genuine insights into the excesses of fame and the crushing natures of the industry, Tropic Thunder feels like lots of successful rich people celebrating just how naughty they can be.

That's not to say that it isn't funny. The first five minutes are blindingly funny and there's a scattering of good lines throughout, though even the best bits are making fairly obvious points.

Recently American Indie cinema has been in the thralls of Mumblecore but no low budget slacker piece can match this for inarticulacy. There's Nick Nolte at Hulk levels of incoherence, Jack Black playing a crazed drug addict and a deafening soundtrack of explosions and gunfire - most of the dialogue was a mystery to me.

Then there's Robert Downey Junior. I don't think I've understood a line of dialogue he's said since Chaplin. It's hard enough when he's playing Caucasian American; here he's playing an Australian method actor (Russell Crowe basically) who's dyed his face black to play an African American and, to be honest, after about 15 minutes I just gave up.

And he's still the best thing in it. The man is a scriptwriter's dream - you never know what he's on about, but somehow you just take it on trust that it was a good line and he delivered it perfectly.

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