"Man, I don't drop character 'till I done the DVD commentary."
- Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr)
At a glance: Ben Stiller’s over-the-top action/comedy about the making of a war movie is high on volume but low on laughs
A bunch of actors with varying degrees of talent and drug addictions are plunged into the middle of a drug cartel in Asia when their performances in a war movie are not deemed up to scratch. Ben Stiller directs and stars as the semi-talented action hero Tugg Speedman in this ‘comedy’ that is low on laughs and high on loud and gross-out raunchy humor. It works much better as an action movie than a comedy; by those standards, action movies buffs will probably love it. Robert Downey’s performance as a white Australian playing a black man (in full makeup) is both brilliant and offensive; I got a real hoot out of his brief lines delivered in a pretty solid Australian accent. The ‘Scorcher’ trailer that precedes the movie was the funniest moment for me everything went downhill after that. One note: the film is at least partially redeemed by the casting of a big star in a role (and makeup) that makes him basically unrecognizable (I refuse to give any more away and risk that someone reading this will miss out on the surprise).
"Nothing but mild vulgarity mixed with explosions and entitlement, a piss-take on Hollywood excess that doubles as an example of it."
- Time Out Sydney
"This comedy about movie-making that allows the cast to play knowingly with their careers and public personae. But the film feels only half as funny as it should be, falling back too often on big action sequences that are too ridiculous to work on any level."
- Rich Cline (Shadows on the Wall)
"Stiller can do battles and pyrotechnics, no worries there, Tropic Thunder has more explosions than Krakatoa, yet he can't make 'em laugh - not consistently and not for near on two ponderous hours."
- Chris Laverty (Mansized)