Movie Review: Tropic Thunder (2008)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2008 comedy starring Ben Stiller and Jack Black.

Synopsis: With his Vietnam War movie running over budget and behind schedule, a rookie director tries regain control of the production by dropping his uncooperative actors in the middle of the jungle with plans to secretly film them as they try to find their way back to the helicopter. This backfires when the director is inadvertently blown up by a mine and the actors, believing they are still filming the movie, end up fighting a gang of heroin dealers.


When I originally saw previews for this movie, I had some serious doubts about it and decided not to take the time to watch it. However, after watching a similar movie, Delta Farce, some time ago and being pleasantly surprised by it, I did warm up to the idea of watching this film. I finally did that a couple days ago.

Unfortunately, while this movie has a pretty long list of recognizable actors, it didn't do anything to prove my doubts about it were wrong. Even if I overlook the fact this story has been done before (it reminded me a lot of Three Amigos), there wasn't a whole lot about this movie I liked.

There were really two major underlying problems for me when it came to this film. The main one was it was very predictable. To be fair, most comedies are. But, the good comedies make an effort to at least try to throw in a few surprises. This movie fails to do that. Even when it attempts to put in a twist, such as the drug-addicted Jeff Portnoy's (Black) issues inside the heroin camp, it's something that was easy to see coming.

My other issue with this movie is the same one I have with most of Ben Stiller's films, his character was very similar to other characters he has played. As a result of this, there were way too many times when I felt like I was watching a Zoolander sequel.

This wasn't just limited to Stiller either. Black's character was very similar to the one he played in Orange County. In fact, the characters probably could have been interchangeable with only a few minor differences. As a result, the movie just lacked the creativity it needed in order to be memorable in my book.

Final Opinion

I hoped this movie would prove to be better than I expected it to be. But, unfortunately, it failed to do that. Stiller and crew put in a good effort. But, this movie just wasn't all that enjoyable for me.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 04/12/2017, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/09/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system here has Tropic Thunder among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. In fact, I recently have just seen it. It's impressive how smooth Tom Cruise is in the two dance sequences and how unrecognizable he is behaving pudgy and wearing glasses.

Were you able to recognize Tom Cruise in his role?

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