After trying his hand at kid-friendly comedy in Night at the Museum and working with the Farrelly brothers for the first time since There’s Something About Mary in The Heartbreak Kid, Ben Stiller decided to return to the role of writer/director/actor in his new movie Tropic Thunder. At this point, some people might be feeling that Stiller has become a little overexposed, but Tropic Thunder marks only the second screenplay he has made into a feature film (the first was Zoolander) and only his fourth time directing (the others were Reality Bites, The Cable Guy and Zoolander again). I was actually surprised when I looked up those facts on IMDB, considering for awhile there it seemed like Stiller had a new movie coming out every few months and was having great difficulty dealing with his over-the-top cameo addiction. The fact that Tropic Thunder is only the second movie he’s written makes it likely that this will be the first time I’ve gone to the theater to see Stiller in a film since The Royal Tenenbaums.
The Tropic Thunder trailer starts of like an Apocalypse Now/Platoon ripoff with helicopters flying over explosions and palm trees and soldiers crying out in agony for their fallen comrades. But, when Stiller asks if they can stop filming, even though his hands have been blown off, it becomes clear that Tropic Thunder is a movie about making another movie. We’re then introduced to the lead actors: Ben Stiller is Derek Zoolander as an action star, Robert Downey Jr. is an Australian method actor who undergoes a controversial operation to play a black man in the film and Jack Black is a foul-mouthed comedian with a drinking/drug problem. Next, following a suggestion from an extra-grizzled Nick Nolte, director Steve Coogan decides to abandon Stiller and company in the jungle to make their performances more authentic and to teach them a lesson for being such crybabies. Of course, everything goes wrong and the actors end up in a real war with a rural Vietnamese militia. The best part of the trailer is watching Robert Downey Jr. try to be funny without seriously offending millions of people. Tropic Thunder opens August 13, 2008. Check out the Tropic Thunder trailer at Zuguide.com.