A head-scratching mess of a film from the outset, Tropic Thunder maybe tries too hard to satirise a subject long put to rest, to emerge as strong entertainment. Maybe it would have more relevance if it’d come out in 1988 after Rambo III. Not even the incredibly talented Robert Downey Jr can save Tropic Thunder’s descent into tedium, reducing the intended satire of big budget action movies to inconsistency and flat gags.
Ben Stiller directs and takes a starring role, surrounding himself with enough established comedic talent that you’d think it’d be impossible not to be funny, but for most of its duration it’s clearly catering to a taste that we have yet to acquire. Downey is good, but Tom Cruise steals the show with a genuinely hilarious turn as a maniac studio head.
Filmmaker commentary: Ben Stiller and heads of production
Cast Commentary with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr
Before the Thunder – the gestation of the idea for the movie – 4 minutes long
The Hot LZ – 6 mins long
The Cast of Tropic Thunder: the actors talking about their characters; complete with goof reel stuff (22 minutes long)
Blowing Shit Up: behind the scenes look at explosion and gunshot effects (6 minutes long)
Designing The Thunder: production notes
Rain of Madness: faux doco with Steve Coogan as ‘Damien Cockburn’, the director of the movie within the movie (30 minutes long).
Make-Up Test with Tom Cruise: The Tomster bearded up and hip-hop styling. As a result a similar scene was inserted over the final credits of the film.
Full Mags: full camera roll of the Choose a Dude scene between characters played by Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr as shot, so you see the improv and evolution of the scene – and the two actors trying to corpse each other (11 minutes long)
Deleted scenes, extended sequences and an alternate ending
Rain of Madness Trailer
Tropic Thunder segment filmed for the MTV Movie Awards – the making of a faux viral video to promote the film. Funny stuff, with Stiller, Black and Downey Jr having some fun at each other’s, and the film industry’s, expense (4 minutes long).
BD Live: The full Dispatches from the Edge of Madness ‘documentary’; additional Full Mags; video rehearsals
Format: Reviewed Blu-ray version, also available on DVD