I had a few thoughts about the movie, but I realize I didn’t really phrase them particularly well originally.
There are many problems with this movie – the one I was trying to get at in my previous post was that I don’t believe that this will actually register as a satire with much of the audience – it seems to me from the opinions I’ve seen that there is more amusement about Robert Downey Jr. in blackface than an understanding of it being an over-the-top exaggeration of method acting (official reviews, of course, would refute my assertion), which I would assume, best-case, was the intent.
Another problem is the casting – Jack Black and Ben Stiller have made many infamous acting choices involving tasteless, crass, or (in this guy’s opinion) just plain stupid movies: There’s Something About Mary, or Dodgeball, or Shallow Hal, or Meet the Parents, etc. etc. etc. I’m aware that Stiller had the idea for this movie while he was working on Empire of the Sun, but in the larger context of movie roles, painting this as nothing but brilliant satire tends to look disingenuous at best.
And, as jessi points out, by creating a lowball satire such as this, Stiller in effect paints a picture of bigotry as how it appears in Tropic Thunder, and in so doing gets to distance himself, as do Downey Jr. and Black – see, we’re not actually assholes, these people who do these things – they are the assholes.
In edition to these things, the fact is that satires about Hollywood being a town of vain and ignorant people…are not new. The only thing new here is the tools used to do it – Ben Stiller mocking Dustin Hoffman and Sean Penn while getting his fanbase to laugh at the disabled onscreen; Jack Black engaging in self-mockery too realistic to be satirical (it only works if you find him starring in a movie called “The Fatties” wholly implausible); and Robert Downey Jr. in blackface.
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