Tropic Thunder  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
American satire

Tropic Thunder is a 2008 American action satire comedy film directed and produced by Ben Stiller. The film stars Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr. as a group of prima donna actors making a Vietnam War film. When their frustrated writer and director decide to drop them in the middle of a jungle, the actors are forced to portray their roles without the comforts of a film set. Written by Stiller, Justin Theroux, and Etan Cohen, the film was produced by DreamWorks and Red Hour Films and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Stiller's idea for the film originated while playing a small part in Empire of the Sun, and he later enlisted Theroux and Cohen's help to complete the script. After the film was greenlit in 2006, filming took place in 2007 on the Hawaiian island of Kauai over thirteen weeks and was later deemed the largest film production in the island's history. Tropic Thunder had an extensive marketing promotion, including faux websites for the main characters and their fictional films, airing a fictional television special, and selling the energy drink advertised in the film, "Booty Sweat". Prior to the film's release, it was met with criticism from disability advocacy groups for its portrayal of mental retardation.

Tropic Thunder's soundtrack and score debuted on August 5, 2008, before the film's theatrical release. It received generally favorable reviews with critics approving of the film's characters, story, and faux trailers while criticizing its offensive content. In its North American opening weekend, the film earned US$26 million and retained the number one position for the first three weekends of release. The film and its cast were nominated for several awards from various groups including the Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics Association, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Tropic Thunder grossed $180 million in theaters before its release on home video on November 18, 2008.


During the filming of hook-handed Vietnam veteran John "Four Leaf" Tayback's memoir, Tropic Thunder, the actors—fading action hero Tugg Speedman, five-time Academy Award-winning Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus, rapper Alpa Chino, and drug-addicted comedian Jeff Portnoy—behave unreasonably (with the exception of newcomer supporting actor Kevin Sandusky). Rookie director Damien Cockburn is unable to control the actors during the filming of a large war scene, and just five days into shooting the production is reported to be a month behind schedule. Cockburn is ordered by studio executive Les Grossman (Tom Cruise as the foul-mouthed and hot-headed studio executive producing Tropic Thunder) to get filming back on track.

Acting on Tayback's advice, Cockburn drops the actors into the middle of the jungle, where he has installed hidden cameras and special-effect explosions rigged so he can film "guerrilla-style". The actors have guns that fire blanks, along with a map and scene listing that will guide them to a helicopter waiting at the end of the jungle route. Unbeknownst to the actors and the production, the group have been dropped in the middle of the Golden Triangle, the home of the heroin-producing Flaming Dragon gang. Shortly after the group set off, the five actors are stunned to see Cockburn blown up by a land mine. Speedman, believing Cockburn faked his death, persuades Chino, Portnoy, and Sandusky that Cockburn is alive and that they are still shooting the film. Lazarus is unconvinced that Cockburn is alive, but joins the other actors in their trek through the jungle.

When Tayback and pyrotechnics operator Cody Underwood attempt to locate the now-dead director, they are captured by Flaming Dragon, at which point Tayback reveals that he fabricated his memoir (and that he has actual hands). As the actors continue to forge through the jungle, Lazarus and Sandusky discover that Speedman is leading them in the wrong direction. The four actors, tired of walking through the jungle and hoping to be rescued, leave Speedman, who goes off by himself and is captured by Flaming Dragon and taken to their heroin factory. Believing it is a prisoner-of-war camp from the script, he continues to think he is being filmed. The gang discovers that he is the star of their favorite film, the box office bomb Simple Jack, and force him to reenact it several times a day. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Speedman's agent Rick Peck is trying to negotiate with an uninterested Grossman an unfulfilled term in Speedman's contract that entitles him to a TiVo. Flaming Dragon calls the two and demands a ransom for Speedman, but Grossman instead berates the gang. Grossman attempts to convince Rick about the benefits of allowing Speedman to die and collecting the insurance.

Lazarus, Chino, Portnoy, and Sandusky discover Flaming Dragon's heroin factory. After seeing Speedman being tortured, they plan a rescue attempt based on the film's script. Lazarus impersonates a farmer towing a captured Portnoy, distracting the armed guards so Chino and Sandusky can locate where the captives are held. After the gang notices inconsistencies in Lazarus' story, the actors open fire on the gang, temporarily subduing them. When the gang realizes that the actors are using guns filled with blanks, they begin firing.

The four actors locate Tayback, Underwood, and Speedman and cross a bridge rigged to explode to get to Underwood's helicopter. Speedman asks to remain behind with the gang which he considers his "family", but quickly returns with Flaming Dragon in pursuit. Tayback detonates the bridge, allowing Speedman to reach safety, but as the helicopter takes off, the gang fires a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at the machine. Peck unexpectedly stumbles out of the jungle carrying a TiVo box and throws it in the path of the RPG, saving them all. The actors and crew return to Hollywood, where footage from the hidden cameras is compiled into a feature film, Tropic Blunder, which becomes a major critical and box office hit.


The score and soundtrack of Tropic Thunder were released on August 5, 2008, the week before the film's release in theaters. The score was composed by Theodore Shapiro and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony. William Ruhlmann of allmusic gave the score a positive review, stating it is "... an affectionate and knowing satire of the history of Hollywood action movie music, penned by an insider." Thomas Simpson of SoundtrackNet called it "... a mixture of fun, seriousness, rock n' roll and great scoring."

Five songs, "Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot, "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield, "Low" by Flo Rida and T-Pain, and "Get Back" by Ludacris, were not present on the soundtrack, yet did appear in the film. The soundtrack features songs from The Temptations, MC Hammer, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Edwin Starr, and other artists. The single "Name of the Game" by The Crystal Method featuring Ryu has an exclusive remix on the soundtrack. The soundtrack debuted 20th on Billboard's Top Soundtracks list and peaked at 39th on its Top Independent Albums list. James Christopher Monger of allmusic compared the music to other film's soundtracks such as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Forrest Gump and called it "... a fun but slight listen that plays out like an old late-'70s K-Tel compilation with a few bonus cuts from the future."

| title1 = Name of the Game | note1 = The Crystal Method's Big Ass T.T. Mix | writer1 = Ken Jordan, Scott Kirkland, Tom Morello | extra1 = The Crystal Method | length1 = 5:11 | title2 = Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) | writer2 = Barrett Strong, Norman J. Whitfield | extra2 = The Temptations | length2 = 4:08 | title3 = Run Through the Jungle | writer3 = John Fogerty | extra3 = Creedence Clearwater Revival | length3 = 3:05 | title4 = Sadeness (Part I) | writer4 = M.C.Curly, David Fairstein, Frank Peter | extra4 = Enigma | length4 = 4:13 | title5 = U Can't Touch This | writer5 = Rick James, MC Hammer, Alonzo Miller | extra5 = MC Hammer | length5 = 4:14 | title6 = Ready Set Go | writer6 = Nick Grant | extra6 = Ben Gidsjoy | length6 = 5:00 | title7 = I Just Want to Celebrate | writer7 = Dino Fekaris, Nickolas Zesses | extra7 = The Mooney Suzuki | length7 = 3:51 | title8 = I'd Love to Change the World | writer8 = Alvin Lee | extra8 = Ten Years After | length8 = 3:43 | title9 = The Pusher | writer9 = Hoyt Axton | extra9 = Steppenwolf | length9 = 5:48 | title10 = Movin' on Up | writer10 = Jeff Barry, Ja'net Dubois | extra10 = Ja'net Du Bois | length10 = 1:08 | title11 = Frankenstein | writer11 = Edgar Winter | extra11 = The Edgar Winter Group | length11 = 4:45 | title12 = Sometimes When We Touch | writer12 = Dan Hill, Barry Man | extra12 = Dan Hill | length12 = 4:08 | title13 = War | writer13 = Strong, Whitfield | extra13 = Edwin Starr | length13 = 4:08 | title14 = I Love Tha Pussy | writer14 = Cisco Adler, Darryl Farmer, Micah Givens, Ronald Jackson, Brandon T. Jackson | extra14 = Brandon T. Jackson | length14 = 3:23

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