Monday, December 8, 2008

Tropic Thunder Apologizes, Causes Male Sterility. (ROFL!)


The DVD for Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder offers an incredible array of special features that are sorely missing from most other recent disc offerings. (Note to Hollywood: previews of upcoming movies are not "special features" of the movie that's on the disc. Duh.) And Tom Cruise, everywhere else known as an arrogant buffoon, is hysterical in the movie and in the special-features extended hip-hop dance sequence.

At least one of the special features for Thunder is also a psychological study in either blatant hypocrisy or blind ignorance, being a Dreamworks public service announcement reminding us that the "intellectually challenged" are our colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family members, and that they should never be called any "R-word" except the one they deserve, "Respected."

True enough, but this is Tropic Thunder, where Robert Downey Jr.'s character gives Ben Stiller's character a long lecture on why no actors should ever go "full retard" if they hope to win an Academy Award. Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks, as Rain Man and Forrest Gump, played their guys as only partially retarded, and each won an Oscar. Sean Penn played I Am Sam as a "full retard" and the Academy snubbed his performance.

Oh, and then there are those scenes of the Stiller character's failed role as a "full retard" — buck teeth, stutter, stupid hair, stupid clothes, crossed eyes, slurred speech — which the jungle drug lords force him to reprise... but we don't want to give the plot away.

So... hmm... could the PSA have anything to do with the negative publicity brought against the film by the Special Olympics people and other advocates? And a continuation of token-apology moves already begun during the summer?

If so, then Dreamworks and the Stiller/Downey/Black three stooges also have some major apologizing to do to another special-interest group: Men. Probably the biggest laugh-inducer on the whole disc has already gone at least partially around the Internet as the "viral video" it claimed to set out to be (postmodern meta-commentary; gotta love it). And the viral clip also happened to be a promo — one of dozens — for the film when it was coming to theaters. Let's have a look:

Okay, the last scene is disturbingly evocative of about-to-be-decapitated-hostage videos before it flips to an undisguised Scanners ripoff; not very amusing. But as for the rest: OMGROFLMAO — the classic Bashed Balls comedy routine! The nutcracker is something that every man has experienced at least once in life, remembers vividly for the agonizing pain and inability to breathe that came right after impact, and hopes never to experience again, ever. So, um: why is it so funny?

The Internet is filled with interesting speculation: guys make really amusing faces both before and after the big hit; men are rendered speechless and powerless (for a change); "balls" are the linguistic symbol of inflated bravery and machismo, so it's a delight to see them deflated so decisively; a whack to the sack is basic schadenfreude 101 — hysterical as long as it happens to others; the pain is only temporary, so what's the big deal; and the ever-popular Who Cares Stop Overthinking This And Just Laugh, which is sort of similar to the "No one knows for sure, but it is" determination made by a group of college freshmen when asked by their professor.

In any case, we hope that the upcoming Super Deluxe Director's Edition 5-disc DVD release of Tropic Thunder won't have to include a public service announcement apologizing for the director's inadvertent role in promoting Planned Parenthood.

Then again, controversy is publicity, so head on over to Tactical World for some protection and then let the groin gonging commence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I confess to being surprised that I found the viral video promo to be so funny. Not normally a fan of Three Stooges-type physical comedy when physical pain is the sight gag. One thing that makes the video funny is the set-up. Movie stars are poking fun at their massive egos; references to their other screen gigs are taken "seriously" and so the three (?) movies exist in an offscreen place that viewers get see. The egos at the beginning of the film are deflated by the control of their core audience—adolescent males, for whom nut jokes are apparently stock-in-trade.
Movie stars engage in a macho battle for dominance. Who IS top dog among these three men? The audience (Stiller's nephew) calls the tune, and what he wants is what Hollywood falls all over itself to provide.

But I still can't figure out why it made me laugh.