There’s some pretty funny parts to this movie. I laughed out loud a lot.
There’s also some misses.
But it’s worth it just for Robert Downey’s hilariously complex send up of actors who confuse craft with alchemy and think they can make gold out of lead.
There’s some bits where the writing tried too hard for me and thereby left me more disappointed than amused. And there were times when the movie dragged or seemed lost.
But when it worked, it worked really well.
As for the whole “retard” controversy, it’s understandable. I can see how some people might be offended, even though it’s clearly a comic device to make fun of actors, not people with disabilities.
And, if you want to get serious about taking offense, than African-Americans, Hollywood studio heads, Asians, children, “fat” people, rappers, addicts, recovering addicts, action stars, Francis Ford Coppolla, Martin Sheen and everyone else who worked on APOCALYPSE NOW, as well as PLATOON, FULL METAL JACKET, etc. etc. should all be up in arms about being ridiculed too.
But if you just see it as a send up of the movie business, it’s one of the best ever (right up there with two other movies about acting and making movies or TV shows: THE STUNTMAN—which is a more serious take on moviemaking, and one of the greatest movies ever made in my estimation—and SOAPDISH, a goof on soap operas, that is one of the funniest, as is TROPIC THUNDER, in its more juvenile way).
[Since writing the above, people have asked me what I thought of Tom Cruise's work in TROPIC THUNDER. Well, it's interesting, but no more of a stretch for him than the role he played in MAGNOLIA—which to my mind was brilliant—though this one is more comic and physically transformative. But it isn't the career-reviving performance that say Travolta's was in PULP FICTION or I hope Karen Allen's turns out to be in the recent RAIDERS sequel. If anyone redeemed themselves in my mind in this flick it was Jack Black, whose mannerisms have been making me like watching him less and less lately, but in TROPIC THUNDER he turns these on their head and makes them the basis of his character's foibles and in that way almost becomes endearing, at least to me, which surprised me. The real find of this flick is the kid who plays the "unknown" newcomer among the five supposed "stars" of the movie that's at the heart of the story, Jay Baruchel. There's another newcomer, Brandon T. Jackson, playing the rapper star turned movie star, but his role is more conventional and though he does it well it's not a stand out or breakthrough star-making performance, as I believe Baruchel's is. Ben Stiller as the action star on the wane does his usual brilliantly comic job, though the "retard" stuff seemed pushed in ways that were more offensive to comedy than to the mentally challenged, I thought. But as for Cruise, despite the bald pate and large body parts, I didn't see anything in his performance I haven't seen before, as a fellow actor, though maybe not as an audience member.]