August 12, 2008, - 2:20 pm

Mid-Week Box Office: Funny But Vile “Tropic Thunder”, Depressing But Poignant “When Did You Last See Your Father?”

By Debbie Schlussel
Two movies, one debuting tonight at Midnight (“Tropic Thunder”) and the other (“When Did You Last See Your Father?”) was out Friday, but I didn’t get a chance to review it ’til now.
* “Tropic Thunder“: This movie started out strong and finished flat and stupid and ever vulgar. It was very funny at the beginning, with the best part being the fake movie trailers that parody today’s stars like “Sylvester Stallone” and sundry rap star moguls who pimp energy drinks and want to be taken seriously as actors. The clips from “Access Hollywood” and other entertainment shows are funny, too.


I especially liked Robert Downey, Jr.’s character in this movie, a pretentious Australian who gets a skin operation to become a Black guy. He has you convinced in this movie that he’s really Black, which drives the real Black actor in the movie, nuts.
The story is essentially a parody of Hollywood and Hollywood stars. Several actors are making a movie about the Vietnam War. The movie is the story of the making of that movie, during which they suddenly find themselves at war with actual Asian druglord terrorists.
Ben Stiller plays the Sly Stallone-esque character. His career as “The Scorcher” is downhill, after several sequels. And his movie attempt at playing a retarded man is a failure and laughed at throughout Hollywood. It is his portrayal of “Simple Jack” that has elicited protests of “Tropic Thunder” by activists for the mentally disabled.
Brandon T. Jackson, a Detroit-born comedian, plays rapper Alpa Cino (haha, funny), who sells “Booty Sweat” energy drinks and wants to be a serious actor. Jack Black plays a fat actor who makes fart and fat people movies and also wants to be taken seriously.
And finally, there is Tom Cruise, who plays Len Grossman–a stereotypical balding Jewish Hollywood producer mogul who dances around to rap music, has sycophantic assistants, and constantly yells and screams obscenities at everyone around him. Normally, this is the part where I’d complain about this kind of stereotypical portrayal of Jews in Hollywood. But sadly, I hate to say that this is what many of them have become. Was Cruise wearing a prosthetic nose? Now, that I do object to.
The one great thing about this film is that no Hollywood stereotype is off-limits, from the BS-ing agent, to the animal-rights panda-pandering hypocrite celeb, to the scummy producer who doesn’t value the human lives of his actors one iota.
While I thought the movie started off well and laughed a lot throughout, it quickly degraded into a disgusting set of events, from a whole scene with a beheaded head to some really gross, graphic dialogue. The P-word is frequently uttered and there is a sick part with false teeth that is the reason for the real-life protests of the mentally disabled activists.
Given the gross dialogue and sick beheading scene, I have to downgrade my rating. So I barely even give it a. . .
* “When Did You Last See Your Father?“: Having just lost my father about a year ago, this was tough for me to watch. Although my father was nothing like the philandering jerk in this movie, the part with him dying of cancer and wanting to ask and say certain last things to the soon-to-be-departed parent, without really getting the chance, is a vivid memory.
It’s the story of Blake (Colin Firth), a married writer in England who learns that his father is dying of cancer. His father was always a scammer and cad who also was having–he suspected–an extramarital affair with a family friend. Blake always wanted to be a writer, and his father always wanted him to be a doctor, and is never happy with his son’s achievements.
Blake comes to his parents home to be around him as his father is dying. We see him have flashback memories of growing up–of all of the times he caught his father cheating, and of his father’s cheapness and scams, but also of all the times his father took him camping, taught him to drive, etc. While his father is dying, Blake is reminded of his resentment for his dad, but once his father is gone, he finally realizes that, for all his faults, his father loved him and helped him grow up.
I had mixed feelings about this movie. Through about half of it, I thought, wow, is this movie horrid and depressing. But then, about halfway through, I realized that the ending message is a good one. It was touching and made me cry, as the grown son finally realizes his father’s love after his death and cries.
Bottom line: Not all fathers are perfect. Everyone has their faults and things that lead them astray. But Blake realizes that, despite his father’s philandering and carrying on, he loved his son, cared about him very much, and tried the best he knew how.

One Response

” — uhhh… uhhh… I — I — I — I — I — I — I — I — uh — I don’t think”
…..NOW I get it!!!!
BHO is really ‘Simple Jack’!!!!!

NickFury on August 18, 2008 at 10:01 pm

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