PUBLISHED: 13:18 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010
METHOD actors, thinly-veiled careerist Oscar bids and the action blockbuster itself all come under attack in this vulgar, foul-mouthed satirical attack on the Hollywood machine. Ben Stiller stars as Tugg Speedman, an action supers
METHOD actors, thinly-veiled careerist Oscar bids and the action blockbuster itself all come under attack in this vulgar, foul-mouthed satirical attack on the Hollywood machine.
Ben Stiller stars as Tugg Speedman, an action superstar who is hoping that his new project, Tropic Thunder, a Vietnam War film, will get his career back on track after an earlier attempt to get an Oscar nomination by playing a mentally disabled character went down in flames. Co-starring in the film is five-time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr), a highly-strung method actor who has decided to push his capabilities by playing an African American soldier in full black face. Rounding off the personnel are druggie comic actor Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) who is fresh off a success with a series about a farting family, The Fatties, bona fide black man and hip hop star Alpa Chino (Brandon T Jackson) who has issues with Kirk's make up, wet-behind-the-ears Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) and the overwhelmed British director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan).
On the advice of the amputee war hero (Nick Nolte), on whose memoirs the film is based, Cockburn gets the bright idea to dump the cast deep in the middle of the jungle and film the whole thing on hidden cameras with more explosive results than he bargained for. Stiller, who also directs, uses the set-up to gun down the excesses and idiosyncrasies of Hollywood and does so with great gusto. The results are patchy, but there are some moments of gleefully over-the-top chaos that make up for some of the more poorly judged aspects. The talented cast each add to the film in a different way, but it is Downey Jr who steals the show by turning what could have been a gratuitous exercise in bad taste into a surprisingly nuanced pot shot at try-hard actors. Definitely not one for the easily offended, but a rewarding - if flawed - slab of hard-hitting satire for those with the stomach for it.