Spoiler Points for Tropic Thunder (2008)

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Spoiler Points for Tropic Thunder (2008) [R] 107 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.25
DVD Release Date: 18 November 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
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Spoiler Points for Tropic Thunder

The Coming Attractions:
• Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) stars in a movie called Satan's Alley with Tobey Maguire where they play monks who start to monkey around.
• Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) stars again in another film about his famous Fatty Family and gets laughs from his flatulence—he plays all the roles in the film.
• Tugg Speedman appears in the 5th sequel to his popular action hero series about a guy who saves the world from the havoc that ensues when the earth ceases to rotate leaving half the planet in a state of frozen wasteland.

The Story:
• Producer Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) funds the making of Tropic Thunder, a film based on a book by former war hero Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte) who served in Vietnam in dramatic fashion and became one of four men from his unit to survive, one of two who wrote about it, and the only one whose book got turned into a movie. Of course only one person has read the book, and that is the actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) who plays the unit's puppy dog green private who you assume is there to be killed off in the story.
• Kirk Lazarus has undergone a controversial process of skin pigment alteration to make it possible for him to play the platoon's Black duty Sergeant. This caused controversy in the film's world obviously as much as Robert Downey, Jr. playing the role in the real world might cause a similar controversy. The important thing to realize is that the script of the real movie calls for a white actor to play a white actor who goes through this procedure. And the satirical point of this in the grander scheme of things is huge. Think of it this way: If a movie were to be made about the life of George Washington, would the actor have to be white because George Washington was white? Could, for example, Denzel Washington not portray George Washington because he is black? If an actor is truly as gifted as Denzel Washington ought not he be able to transcend the race lines and portray any character he so desires? It's an incredibly complex issue that cannot be easily resolved and lathers over into anything from straight people playing gay, women playing men, Christians portraying Jewish characters, non-mentally challenged people playing mentally challenged people and so on. The point to remember is that acting by definition is someone portraying someone other than him or herself, usually, though sometimes they do play themselves playing themselves as in cameos for example. For acting to be successful it requires something from the actor as well as the audience. The actor must be convincing and the audience must be open to being convinced of the authenticity of the performance. Ultimately, in a truly harmonious world, any actor should earn the right to be able to attempt, at least, to convince the audience of the authenticity previous to being judged. I, for one, will relish the day when absolutely no one in the USA would bat an eye were they to ear that Denzel Washington had been cast to play George Washington and when the color of an actor's skin is not taken into consideration when casting decisions are made before the actor's skill is taken into account. We USAers still have a lot of hang-ups that are needless, boorish, and antiquated. It's time for us to grow up as a culture and a species on these issues.
• Meanwhile, Jeff Portnoy has a rather serious drug problem and special jelly beans to keep him happy while on the set.
• Brandon T. Jackson plays Alpa Chino in nothing short of a scathing indictment to the gang-bang, hip-hop, bootylicious, MTV-Pimp-Rap culture that has been stirred up and used to exploit real Black culture in the USA. And, it turns out that Alpa Chino has a pretty big secret.
• Tugg Speedman is harboring a great grudge of his own. He tried to break free of his stereotyped action hero genre with a little film called Simple Jack where he played a severely mentally challenged young man. Unfortunately, unlike Dustin Hoffman or Tom Hanks, he received no accolades for his work. Instead, he was made fun of and told, basically to return to action roles. The depth of the wound this left in him does not come through until far later into the film.
• The only baggage young Kevin Sandusky has is his dream to get a girlfriend. He's basically set up in the plot to be the patsy who wanders in due to inexperience and gets killed so the platoon will have something to mourn. Only, that's not what happens.
• Director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) attempts to film the final climatic scene which has Kirk's character running back from an escape helicopter to the side of a now nearly blown to smithereens, Four Leaf (Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller)), as Tugg spills his guts about the two being brothers in front of a spectacular pyrotechnic display of jungle mayhem. Unfortunately, the actors lose it, Tugg walks off feeling that Kirk is trying to upstage him in the tears category, and the studio loses $4 million on the jungle bombing scene that wasn't even caught on film.
• This raises the ire of producer Les Grossman who immediately wants to shut down the picture. But, the real Four Leaf Tayback convinces Cockburn to raise the stakes to get his movie. He advises that the men be taken and placed in the real heart of the jungle and forced to face their fears and emerge from a new place in their acting careers.
• So, Damien conceives of wiring the jungle with little hidden cameras, planting explosions where needed, and sending the men on a real mission. As he executes his plan and rallies his actors, he's got the sight of the greatest war movie ever made on his mind. He then proceeds to step on a land mine left over from the real wars in the region and which detonates and blows him into a million pieces before their eyes. They don't know what to make of it. Tugg is convinced it was faked to scare them, but Kirk has his doubts. All of this activity in the jungle, however, lures in the local drug traders who are concerned that they are real DEA agents on patrol to shut the down.
• As the cast proceeds under the leadership of Tugg on their 'mission' assigned by Damien, they both become the 'real' soldiers Damien hoped they would while also dealing with their personal demons as actors.
• Meanwhile, explosives expert Cody (Danny McBride) and the real Four Leaf get captured by the drug traders and taken to their camp led by 12-year old Tran (Brandon Soo Hoo) who has no use for USAers.
• As they follow their mission, eventually infighting leads to the capture of Tugg by Tran's men. He manages to get a call off to his agent, Rick Peck (Matthew McConaughey) who's in a discussion at the time with Les Grossman. This leads to Tran getting the idea they can blackmail the studio for money for Tugg's return, but Les won't negotiate with terrorists and hangs up. Later, Les tries to convince Rick that letting Tugg die would be the best thing for everyone and save the studio a lot of money which he would gladly share with Rick assuming he would go along with the plan.
• The cast finds within themselves the courage to attempt to rescue him on the back of inspiration from the unassuming leader, Kevin Sandusky. They decide to use the real plan that the real Four Leaf used in his book to escape his captors. What they don't know, and no one but Cody finds out is that Four Leaf is a complete fraud. Not only does he have real hands, not the hooks he wears over them, but he was never in Vietnam and made the whole thing up. So, the plan they intend to execute is one untried in real life.
• In the camp, before he is to be tortured to death, Tran recognizes Tugg as Simple Jack—which just happens to be the only movie they have to play on their only VCR. They love the film, and he wants Tugg to recreate the film for them on stage, live, and in person. Shortly thereafter, he begins to realize that they love him, inasmuch as Tran may intend to continue to torture and humiliate him, they love him.
• Tugg manages to get off a call to his agent
• The night before the rescue, Jeff recommends they tie him to a tree because he will not be himself around mountains of raw heroine, Kevin confesses he wants a real girlfriend, and Alpa slips and admits he has a secret crush on…Lance…despite him being an icon of heterosexualbootyliciousness.
• The next day, Kirk creates a diversion disguised as a Chinese farmer who captures the white Jeff Portnoy whom he has strapped to the back of an ox, and attempts to win favor with Tran for his find. This allows for Kevin and Alpa to sneak around and attempt to release Tugg. They find Four Leaf and Cody instead.
• When Kirk and the gang finally locate Tugg, he's torn and doesn't want to leave his new family of adoring fans especially his newly adopted son Half Squat.
• As they charge across a bridge (which Cody has rigged to explode) to escape the camp, Tugg tells Kirk he wants to stay behind with his new family. Kirk is furious, but has to go along with it. They board the helicopter when they see Tugg running in the distance claiming his was wrong. Kirk leaps out and detonates the bridge to save Tugg. They repeat the scene from the opening which caused all of the problems in the first place.
• Next up, everyone is at the Academy Awards® Night and Tropic Thunder is winning all of the awards with Tugg Speedman receiving on behalf of cast and crew.
• The credits scroll with Tom Cruise playing Les Grossman one last time and dancing it up in his office full of gadgets and gizmos of a studio executive.

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