Saturday, 17 November 2012

Vietnam Week 6: Comic Relief

Out in the world of films there are more than a few war films. Perhaps this is because, as a species, we have so many wars. Whatever the reason is, it seems that we can never get tired of one war. The war that, if you weren't there, you can never imagine. Described by more than one solider as a hell on Earth and claimed 58,282 U.S. Solider's lives. The war in Vietnam. Considering the subject matter of most Vietnam films, it is understandable that there are not a whole bunch of laughs. Even Good Morning, Vietnam had very serious undertones. Today's film goes full comedy. This is Tropic Thunder.

British director, Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), is making his first feature length film based on a book by Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte. This book tells the tale of a near suicide mission that happened in Vietnam in which only four out of ten men that went on the mission returned. Cockburn has to direct a misfit cast consisting of blockbuster star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), multiple Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr), comedy star and drug addict Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson), and newbie Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Deciding that his crew are too up-their-own-arses for their own good, Cockburn, with the help of Tayback, rigs the forest with cameras and explosives to create an all too realistic experience. Method acting to a new extreme. But almost straight away, things become too real; it is no longer just a film.

It was a black day for Robert Downey Jr

Comedies, not renowned for for being prestigious in acting terms (for a more detailed look into comedies and how they are viewed in the overall world of films, read this feature) Tropic Thunder gained Robert Downey Jr an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He completely deserves it of course for his portrayal of an Australian actor (Lazarus) playing an African American troop and with such conviction, it is hard to tell that it is the same man that plays Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes. The other actors are what you would come to expect of them. Not to say they are overly typecast, they are just as funny as you would expect them to be. Steve Coogan, an actor in particular who simply is not in as much as he should be, is hilarious as the dimwitted director. His timing and reactions are so perfect, it is impossible to see anyone else playing that role.

The cast soon lost their heads

Shot like any other Vietnam films - with plenty of parody shots - the colour of the film is completely captivating like the serious films. The many explosions contrasting beautifully with the blue sky and green trees. The pyrotechnics, thanks to the advancement in technology, are simply brilliant. But really makes this film outstanding is the hilarious writing.  A wonderful twist on not just the Vietnam genre but also the meta-comedy. This isn't a film of a film, this is a film of a film of a film going wrong. It is so post-modern it hurts one's brain to think about it too much. Everything about the film is comically perfect and you will be laughing from start to finish, no doubt.

A hilarious film that will round off a Vietnam movie session perfectly. After all the brutality and grit, it is nice to see a gentle mockery of the genre and a poke at film making itself. A range of different humour to tickle any audience's funny bone. A must see.

Best Bit? Having recently watched Platoon, the teasing of the famous scene in which Dafoe runs out of the forest and falls to his knees suddenly has a new found hilarity.

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