All of the trailers I saw for this movie left me laughing out loud. I couldn't help it. The movie looked ridiculous and hilarious, and I was left with the strong desire to see it. So, it was with great anticipation that I sat down in the theater to see what Ben Stiller had to offer. The lights went down, the projector flickered to life, and images began to dance across the screen. As the film played, I laughed and I laughed, and I laughed some more. I am pretty sure that while I was in the throes of laughter I missed some of the jokes. This movie easily met my expectations, and while it does not quite have the necessary heart to make it an instant classic, there is no shortage of the funny moments.
Tropic Thunder tells a familiar tale, however it is done in a smart fashion as it skewers many aspects of Hollywood. Watching the film, I could not help but be reminded of a few other movies. Among those are The Three Amigos, A Bug's Life, Galaxy Quest, and Hearts of Darkness. The first three for the basic setup, with the heroes thinking they are doing one thing only to discover they are mistaken. In these films the main characters are then forced to look within themselves, overcome their trepidation, and finally succeed in their quest. The last of the above films is a documentary on the making of Apocalypse Now. That film was fraught with problems and the documentary captures the creation of Apocalypse beautifully. Though Tropic Thunder is played for laughs, its film within a film is plagued with all manner of difficulties and problems.
Before the film even starts, or as it is starting depending on your point of view, we are treated to a few "trailers" which introduce us to the main characters. It is like they took a page out of the Grindhouse playbook, and then upped the ante by tying it directly into the main film. Frankly, I thought it was a great little touch that went a long way towards building up some early good will.