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Tropic Thunder (DVD)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey & Tom Cruise.

Rated: 15.

Story: The filming of an action movie based on a 'true' story from the the Vietnam War goes totally pear-shaped. As a result, the director decides to go for a Blair Witch approach and a bunch of pampered Hollywood actors find themselves wandering the jungles of South East Asia dressed as GIs and waving fake guns.

Unsurprisingly, they blunder into a load of locals with real guns...

Comments: A touch of humour can do wonders for a trashy action film. Some proper jokes and a sense of fun are an effective means of papering over the holes in the plot and easing the transition between daft excuses for explosions. Tropic Thunder proves, however, that a touch of action can also do wonders for a trashy comedy film.

The jokes are generally reasonably funny with a handful of truly hilarious moments poking fun at the movie industry. A couple of recurring gags are a little tiresome, though. (It's particularly hard to tell whether we're supposed to be laughing at the idiocy of Tom Cruise's character or simply at Tom Cruise. In some ways, that's incredibly clever. Sadly, it's pretty excruciating to watch.) As a standard comedy, the film would be OK but instantly forgettable. Happily, the action scenes are more entertaining than in a fair few action movies I've seen recently, picking up the slack whenever the humour starts to wear thin. The final product is both fun and exciting.

Ultimately, your reaction to Tropic Thunder is likely to depend on how you feel about Robert Downey Jr's character. His performance carries the movie in places and so you'll need to be able to see the funny side of a white dude playing a white dude playing a black dude who acts like a stereotype of a black dude invented by a white dude who has lost sight of the dude he really is...

(Oh, and the best bit is actually the spoof viral-video planning meeting that's in the bonus features.)

Conclusion: All comedy films should have more explosions. Maybe even My Best Friend's Wedding could have been good with a couple of air strikes and a truck full of AK-47s.

Explosions: Loads.
Funny jokes: Enough.
Very confused dudes: Two.
Life-saving uses of a TiVo: One.
Tom Cruise embarrassing himself: Slightly too much.

Rating: 4/5.


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