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Tropic Thunder (Unrated Director's Cut + BD Live) - Blu-ray DVD / comedy DVD / comic action DVD review
TROPIC THUNDER (UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT + BD LIVE) Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 stars
Actors: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Nick Nolte, Steve Coogan, Brandon T. Jackson
Director: Ben Stiller Distributor: Dreamworks Video
DVD release: 18 November 2008 Runtime: 122 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Director's Cut, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (5.1 Dolby True HD - English; Dolby Digital 5. 1 - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portugese), Filmmaker commentary, Cast commentary (Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.), Before the Thunder (HD), The Hot LZ (HD), Blowing S&*t Up (HD), Designing the Thunder (HD), The Cast of Tropic Thunder (HD), Rain of Madness (HD), Dispatches from the Edge of Madness, Deleted and extended scenes (HD), Alternate Ending (HD), MTV Movie Awards-Tropic Thunder, Full Mags (HD), Video Rehearsals, BD Live

It's trouble making a Vietnam epic. It's sweaty, hot, the actors are unwilling to come from their cushy trailers. War is hell.

First-time feature director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) is one week into filming Tropic Thunder and already over budget. Producer Les Grossman is furious at how things are going (I won't mention the actor playing him - it's better you find out on your own). He's ready to pull the plug.

The film's stars (chosen by Grossman) are being a pain in the... er... They're being problematic. Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is a big-budget action star who's helmed six films in the Scorcher series. He's not quite capable of bringing the emotional range to the lead role of real-life Vietnam vet Four-Leaf Tayback. Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) is a blue-eyed Aussie who's had controversial surgery to turn his skin black to play Lincoln Osiris. Lazarus is a method actor who gets so into his role that he won't break character until he does the DVD commentary (Downey Jr. actually does the DVD commentary in character). Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) is a heroin-addicted comic actor famous for fart jokes. He's trying to break into more serious cinema. Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) is a rapper with a clothing line, his Booty Sweat energy drink and Bust-A-Nut energy bar (for which he's promised product placement in the film). Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) fills the role of the virginal dead-meat character.

In order to rescue the film, Cockburn decides to take the cast out into the Vietnam jungle to shoot guerilla-style and (hopefully) distance the actors from the things that have been ruining their performances. He takes away their cell phones, gives them a map and a script schedule, points out the cameras hidden in the treesm and leaves them to it. Suffice it to say they get separated from their director and run into drug lords, who mistake them for DEA agents.

Tropic Thunder parodies so much that we love about Hollywood and pop culture, and on this level it succeeds very well. Downey Jr. is perfect for Lazarus, quite willing to poke fun at himself. The film has come under fire for insensitivity to the developmentally disabled community. Speedman made a film called Simple Jack about a mentally-challenged horse whisperer. Perhaps critics failed to notice that the film was making fun of the actor's portrayal of Simple Jack rather than the mentally retarded themselves.

Tropic Thunder is the best Stiller film in a while and a treat to watch. Catch the Rain of Madness featurette in the extra features. It is to Tropic Thunder what Hearts of Darkness is to Coppola's Apocalypse Now, and don't miss the Actors' commentary with Stiller, Black and Downey Jr. There's a ton of comedy on this Blu-ray disc, all of it worth seeing.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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