You know, I thought I had it all figured out. I had my movies of the year all figured out. WALL-E and THE DARK KNIGHT were peerless. Nothing else I had seen this year came close. I was satisfied.
Then I saw TROPIC THUNDER.
I've seen lots of movies in my short 31 years on the planet. There's really no way to put an accurate number on it, but if I had to take a wild guess, I'd say it's in the neighborhood of 500, give or take. On second thought, that may be conservative. Anyway, I've seen a lot. And I have never, ever, ever, seen a movie like TROPIC THUNDER.
It's pretty difficult to put into words a movie that manages to satirize the hands that feed it quite like this movie does. From the opening notes (fictional movie trailers starring the stars of the movie, and one commercial - for the lovely-named energy drink "Booty Sweat,") to the jaw-busting, explosion-laden, stabbing-baby, awesomeness of the climax, every drop of this film pokes fun at Hollywood.
A quick synopsis that will do no justice to the film: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black et. al are on location in Cambodia making a movie (based on a true story, of course) about the Vietnam War. Only they aren't actually making the movie, they just think they are. Meanwhile, back in H-wood, Matthew McConaughey is Tugg Speedman's (Stiller) agent whose sole purpose in life is to get his client the Tivo he is contractually obligated to. Lots more stuff happens, too. And it's all funny. And Jack Black passes a lot of gas, but it's satirical gas. Nick Nolte is a national treasure - his Four-Leaf Tayback should be Oscar-worthy - of course it won't be, because Robert Downey, Jr., playing Kirk Lazarus, playing Lincoln Osiris (who is, of course, a black man) will get the nod.
TROPIC THUNDER is a film that will be studied in film class 40 years from now as an example of a tidal shift in Hollywood, I think. Maybe it's the moment when H-town became self-aware. Maybe it's the signal of a new age in which the film community stops taking itself so dadblamed seriously and can take a joke. The best part of all this, of course, is that it's done well. Stupid satires come out all the time, but TROPIC THUNDER is one for the ages.
5 Simple Jacks out of 5.