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Archive for June 27th, 2008

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get a pass to attend an early test screening of Tropic Thunder last night. We went unsure at how the process worked, much less whether we could get in. But get in we did.

Security at a screening like this isn’t scary but it is tight. The woman screaming that cell phones would not be allowed was not kidding. My husband took ours back to our car but many tucked their phones deeper into pockets and purses and were then invariably sent (temporarily) packing to put them in their cars. “Not recording” is serious business.

We were ushered in more than 1/2 an hour before the showing and accommodations were tight but once you’ve made it past the cell phone Nazi and the 4 (or was it 5?) other people who have to verify your admittance they mostly leave you alone to wait. And in this age where cell phones are the de facto watch for many time stood still. In the bad way. We passed the time mostly by talking over my spec script project and other inanities and watching a mustached man with a legal pad picking various attendees out for extra questions, baffled at his purpose. (We later realized he seemed to be picking out people for on-camera comments.)

At 5 after the appointed time a congenial but business-like bald and be speckled man moved front and center to yell some announcements at us and then it was on with the show.

I wondered, as the lights dimmed, if the credits might be one of the as-yet incomplete parts of the movie and if so if we’d jump right to action or what. I was very confused at the first images I saw. Without trying to spoil anything; just before the movie you will see fake trailers and/or advertisements for the actors being portrayed in the movie. I won’t say more than that but some of them are very funny.

I expected, going into this, to see a caricature of a war movie, presented Ben Stiller-style. I was not remotely prepared for how well they portrayed a war movie. Think of We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and more. If the gory blood and guts in those movies bother you then be forewarned about Tropic Thunder; you get that level (in a farcical manner usually) and more. In one instance I actually felt sick to my stomach and a couple of times had to look away. The entire audience gasped ‘Eugh’ all together in more than one instance.

Additionally, another warning: just like other war and Hollywood movies the language is very heavy. It fits the scenarios and characters portrayed but it’s crude, offensive and/or vulgar for 80% of the movie.

That’s it for the warnings. Everything else I have to say is glowing. It was a hilarious movie and not always predictable. They really play the audience well at times to wonderful results. I laughed so hard at some of the gags and still smile now thinking of one particular line of jokes. Unfortunately there’s really not much else I can say without giving away gags that should remain unspoiled.

Favorite character? Robert Downey, Jr.’s, hands down. The man not only steals the show, but runs off with it, locks it in a chest and sits on it with a come-and-get-me-‘tude. He piqued my interest with Ironman and now he’s totally hooked me with this role. The guy is a fantastic actor and I’m hopeful we’ll see much much more of him now that he’s straightened out his personal life.

Least favorite character? Jack Black’s. Not to confuse the two I want to say that Jack Black played his role very well. He’s a great comedic actor. I just didn’t like his character. It’s very Rob Schneider on the bad side and he grated on me. It rounded out the mix well and some of his scenes were very funny but overall the character didn’t grab me in the slightest.

Biggest surprise? Tom Cruise. I knew he was in it but I was unprepared for how hilarious he would be. This is not the Tom Cruise you’ve ever seen before and you will love it. When he first came on the screen I hated the character and it took me a few moments of screen time to even realize who it was. But by the end (and I mean complete end) you should be laughing hard at him. He pulled off a brilliant spot.

The movie clocks about 1 hour 45 minutes. I think it’s perfectly paced but there’s still a chance they could change things before the August 18th release. Most of the movie looked completely finished though I noticed a few little coloration issues. Additionally, there is still some sound work to be done but nothing major.

With the caveats about the gore and language, I highly recommend the movie!

Promo “Viral Video” for Tropic Thunder

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