Daring satire pushes buttons as it parodies the moviemaking business.
"Tropic Thunder" is a satire, or to be exact, a spoof, about the movie business. Of course, Hollywood does a pretty good job of satirizing itself even when playing it straight.
The premise behind "Tropic Thunder," which was directed and co-written by Ben Stiller, who also stars, is promising. A Vietnam war epic shot in Southeast Asia spins out of control when its harried director (Steve Coogan), trying for guerrilla-style "realism," leads his cast and crew deep into the jungles and ends up confronting some unamused drug lords.
The war movie's cast includes a prime crop of prima donnas. Stiller's Tugg Speedman is an action-movie superstar who is just coming off a colossal flop in which he played a mentally challenged hayseed named Simple Jack. Jeff Portnoy (a blond Jack Black), is the star of a gross-out comedy franchise called "The Fatties." Now he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), an Aussie with five Oscar wins to his credit, is playing a black sergeant. In true Method fashion, he dyes his skin black, kinks his hair, and goes full out for Ebonics.