The Story: Tropic Thunder tells the story of a group of actors placed into a real jungle to make a war movie. When their director is accidentally killed by stepping on a landmine the group must band together in a jungle controlled by a heroin cartel to finish the movie and make it out alive.
Pros: I consider Tropic Thunder the best comedy of the year because not only does it lampoon big Hollywood war movies, but it redefines comedy in my opinion. With several one-liners that could one day become infamous this movie has everything you would want in a comedic film. The story is tight and really shows Hollywood for how it is, who doesn’t think that studio bosses would allow their star to be executed in the jungle if it meant good press? There is a ton of action; it’s a war movie after all, but enough jokes and sight gags for any gender. The acting in this is what transcends everything because not only do the big stars shine, but the side characters are just as big a part of the story. Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jack Black all compete for screen time and share the story equally. From Stiller’s fading action hero, Black’s heroin addicted comedian to Downey Jr. and his Oscar accolades their characters are hilarious. The true stand-outs though come from the younger side characters led by Jay Baruchel and Brandon T. Jackson who play teen star Kevin Sandusky and rap mogul Alpa Chino respectively. They more than hold their own against the bigger stars and have so much to offer as the voices of reason. Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte and Danny McBride round out the cast of characters making the movie and all are funny as hell but you have to give props to Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise in their small roles. As the Hollywood agent (McConaughey) and studio head (Cruise) they are the most remembered bits of the film. Whoever doesn’t love Cruise’s dance at the end has lost their funny bone. This film just works so well from the dialogue, to the plot, and the acting there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy this right away.
Cons: The only issue I have is the length. There is a bit of drag once they all end up in the heroin camp but since the laughs continue it’s not that big of an issue.
Features: I immediately bought the two-disc unrated director’s cut and it’s worth every penny! There is an additional 14 minutes of added features and it’s throughout the entire movie. This isn’t added material like a line of dialogue here and there; there are actually full scenes that are added back in. It doesn’t just peter out at the beginning but goes through the whole film. The added material allows for some more dialogue and interaction between the characters and makes the film more rounded. While the film was hilarious originally, these added scenes flesh everything out. Disc 1 has the commentaries on it. The first is a filmmaker’s commentary with director Ben Stiller, writer Justin Theroux and producer Stuart Cornfeld. This one was a bit more technical with Stiller leading most of the discussion. They did focus on the added scenes so if you didn’t know what was added in they discuss them. The group also focuses on filming and writing the movie which is interesting. The highlight is the star-studded actor commentary with Stiller, Black and Downey, Jr. I would have loved to have had Baruchel and Jackson included by as is this commentary is hilarious. Stiller sits back more for this one and the group has a great time discussing the movie. Downey actually does the commentary in his character’s voice which was interesting and funny, but it was a bit difficult to listen to him in that voice for the whole time. I also would have enjoyed if they had listed who was talking in the subtitles because it was difficult to know who was talking, more so in the filmmaker commentary. The first disc also has some DreamWorks previews and a PSA on disabled people, which seemed to be a disclaimer of sorts due to some content in the film.
Disc 2 is filled to the gills with extras focusing on every aspect of the movie. “Before the Thunder,” “The Hot LZ,” “Blowing S*** Up,” and “Designing the Thunder” all look at how the movie was made with cast and crew interviews. If you wanted to know how the movie came to fruition these will clear up everything and are interesting. “The Cast of Tropic Thunder” focuses on the acting and everyone has fun talking about the movie. “Rain of Madness” and “MTV Movie Awards – Tropic Thunder” is hilarious videos about the movie. One is a faux documentary and the other is the viral video shown at the MTV Movie Awards. Both have been available beforehand but are just as funny to watch again. There are quite a few deleted and extended scenes considering so much was put back in the film and they are funny but it’s easy to see why they were removed. The alternate ending is similar to the original but adds some more depth. “Full Mags” is improve from all the actors and it’s great to watch because you see how editors work with raw material and you see the actors just going through the motions but still having fun. “Video Rehearsals” is also fun to watch as you actually get to see the group read through and rehearse everything. These all give a real glimpse into putting a movie together. There is also a great makeup test with Tom Cruise showing the development of his character’s look that is fun to watch.
Overall: This two-disc collection is worth the price. You get every type of bonus feature in the world along with a first rate comedy adventure. I give the movie and the DVD a fantastic 5/5.