The Source for Parents

Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Tropic Thunder (11/18/2008)

Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material

Directed by Ben Stiller (Zoolander, The Cable Guy)

Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, Brandon Jackson, Steve Coogan, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Jay Baruchel, Matt Levin, Andrea De Oliveira, Reggie Lee, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise

Todd's Rating: Skip it

Tropic Thunder is a typical Ben Stiller R-rated movie.

In the action-comedy Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller plays pampered action superstar Tugg Speedman, who is cast in the biggest, most expensive war movie ever made. Set in Southeast Asia with a "Who's Who" of celebrity co-stars that include Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), the intense, three-time Oscar-winning actor; Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), star of the popular gross-out comedy franchise "The Fatties;" multi-platinum hiphop-star-turned-entrepreneur-turned-actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); and first-timer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Soon after the production begins the actors are thrown into a real-life situation and are forced to become the fighting unit they're portraying in order to find a way out of the jungle in one piece.

I’ll be honest and say that there were a few scenes that really made me laugh, but most scenes were so filled with profanity that it really was not enjoyable (including every scene with Tom Cruise). The basic plot was great but the story drags and the ending is anticlimactic.

As far as the cast, Downey is funny and completely ridiculous as the over the top method actor who undergoes a medical procedure to turn his skin dark brown. Even though I saw it about 100 times in TV trailers, I loved the “What do you mean ‘You people?’” dialogue.

Jack Black is usually hilarious, but he’s pretty disappointing in this one. Maybe they didn’t give him enough screen time or enough good lines or maybe heroine addiction just isn’t funny. Then again, his fake trailer, character and the lines he did have never got passed average.

Then there is Ben Stiller and once again there are a few good scenes but he crosses a line with one of his other movie characters “Simple Jack” that the movie describes as a "retard." It’s not the first time (nor will it be the last) that a mental disabled person has been the object of ridicule but I think that's going too far. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I think Stiller is so much better in his cleaner roles (Meet the Parents, Madagascar and Night at the Museum).

Honestly I found the junket interviews with these three to be way more entertaining than the actual movie. We all know that they are hilarious and I’m praying for a DVD commentary with all three of them.

Tropic Thunder is a lot of hype…too much hype, so Skip It.

We know teens and they’ll definitely want to see it but, because of the language, violence and drug references, they shouldn’t.

Side Note:
As said above, we don't recommend your kids see this film. But on the occasion that they actually have already seen it, you may want to dialogue about the film with them. These questions below may be a help to you.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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