First Look: Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder
Zoolander still makes me chuckle to this day, no matter how many times I've seen it and despite Apple's repetitive use of it in their products. That's why I'm now foaming at the mouth to see Ben Stiller's first directorial attempt since the male-modeling adventure, Tropic Thunder. Entertainment Weekly just published a comprehensive first look at the new comedy and its plain-sight controversy. Without further ado, let's just get down to it and take a look at what could be one of the summer's funniest films.
While Zoolander dealt with runways and models, Tropic Thunder deals with jungles and actors - both equally ridiculous and satirical, however. The basic premise is that Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black (pictured to the right) all play high-maintenance actors who are abandoned at the hands of the fictitious film's writer and director (Nick Nolte and Steve Coogan, respectively) when their prissiness becomes too much. The actors -- embracing the stereotypical aloofness with the world around them that folks of this field seem to have -- think being left in a dangerous jungle is actually a scene from the film.
The plot sounds great and full of funny potential. But the best part is the trio, themselves. More shocking than Jack Black with platinum blonde hair and rose-colored glasses is Robert Downey Jr. playing a black guy. That...is...hysterical! Of course, I can't wait to see the public's reaction to such a dicey racial move. Expect the usual suspects to come out in protest. And as Downey rightly states, "If you don't do it right, we're going to hell."
However, Stiller apparently screened the film to an early group of African Americans and says that "people really embrace[d] it. I was trying to push it as far as you can within reality... I had no idea how people would respond to it."
Downey's foray into playing a black character isn't how the film begins. He starts out as the uber-serious white actor, Kirk Lazarus, who has been cast as Sgt. Osiris in a Vietnam War film. Unfortunately, the character for Sgt. Osiris is written as a black guy. So, Lazarus (Downey) does what any good thespian would and dyes his skin black. "At the end of the day, it's always about how well you commit to the character," Downey states. "I dove in with both feet. If I didn't feel it was morally sound, or that it would be easily misinterpreted that I'm just C. Thomas Howell in [Soul Man], I would've stayed home."
In addition to this raucous cast of characters, there apparently there will be a variety of cameos. However, none are rumored so far to be Zoolander alums Owen Wilson or Will Ferrell. Given our recent coverage of Ferrell (Monday Discussion: Is Will Ferrell Burning Out?), that might be a good thing.
Directed by and starring Ben Stiller and written by Etan Cohen ("King of the Hill", Idiocracy) and well-known actor Justin Theroux (who also stars in the film), Tropic Thunder arrives in theaters everywhere this summer on August 15th. Expect to see a trailer within the next few weeks.