ACTION COMEDY; 1hr 47min
STARRING: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Nick Nolte
Rumble in the jungle: from left, Jackson, Stiller and Downey
The hijinks come out swinging from the opening credits with rollicking mock trailers that set up Tropic Thunder’s cast-within-a-cast. Waning action star Tugg Speedman (Stiller, who co-wrote the screenplay and directs), broad-stroke comic phenom Jeff Portnoy (Black), multi Academy Award–winning Australian Method thesp Kirk Lazarus (Downey, an absolute trip), hip-hopping entrepreneur Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and new boy Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) are futilely attempting to make a Vietnam war movie in Southeast Asia. With production out of control and a studio boss (Cruise, an all but unrecognisable humdinger) on the warpath, the ineffectual director (Steve Coogan) and his grizzled technical consultant (Nolte) decide to shoot on the fly in the jungle. But their pampered cast gets more reality than they bargained for when nothing whatsoever goes to plan.
It can’t help but be a joy when Hollywood stars send the likes of themselves, and the viper pit of studio politics, up rotten. True to Stiller form, the satire couldn’t be sillier in the gleefully insightful way that only calculated lunacy can pull off-egos, antics, action and all.