The disabled and retarded or learning disabled people are NOT the joke. I just want that out in the open right now. The advocates for the disabled asking for a boycott are completely wrong in their assumptions about this film. And I say assumptions because it’s obvious from their statements that they haven’t seen 5 minutes of the movie. Just want that out of the way now….
I have been looking forward to this movie for quite awhile. Poor Ben Stiller, he hasn’t had a decent movie since Meet The Fockers. I don’t count Night At The Museum because that was a genre film (kids) with a built in audience that was going to go whether it sucked or not. After several stinkers in a row, I was rooting for Stiller to pull one out of his ass. I’m happy to say that this film just plain rocks!
From the opening mock commercials and trailers to the end credits with Tom Cruise dancing, (yes, dancing) I was laughing non-stop. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this film effectively skewers Hollywood and really dumb actors and the people that enable them.
Ben Stiller stars as a washed up action hero (Tugg Speedman) trying to get some sort of recognition. In doing so, he created ‘one of the worst films of all time’ called Simple Jack, in a vain attempt to get an Oscar. This poor choice does come back to haunt him, and not to give anything away, but he does get a little taste of hell because of his poor choices. This war epic in Viet Nam is his chance to restart his career. Stiller plays the clueless actor as he did Derek Zoolander with less mugging and more “buying into his own hype” kind of dumb bravado.
Jack Black as a drug addict gross out comedian (Jeff Portnoy) another genre actor (his movies involve fat people and farts) who wants to prove he can really act. Ends up in the throes of withdrawal throughout the film.
Brandon Jackson as a rapper (Alpa Chino) trying to cross over into acting. His raps are notorious for including copious references to womens vaginas.
Jay Baruchel as a young actor (Kevin Sandusky) who is the only one who actually read the book, the script and attended boot camp as preperation for the film. He is the straight man to all the pampered and spoiled actors around him.
And finally, Robert Downey Jr as Kirk Lazarus, a multi Oscar winning Australian method actor known for his bad boy behavior and totally immersing himself in a role. For the role he plays in the movie within the movie, he dyes his skin to appear as an african american and takes on some sort of mish mash of southern accents and ghetto slang that he carries throughout the film. He is incredible. While Ben Stiller is billed as the director and star of this film, Robert Downey Jr is the true (albeit incredibly misguided) heart of this film. He steals every scene he’s in and handily satires a whole genre of actors who take themselves too seriously and act poorly towards the public (I’m looking at you Russell Crowe and aparently so was Robert Downey Jr). Despite the wrongness of his character (white actor in blackface) you soon forgive him for that for the earnestness with which he portrays this actor.
Being a movie buff, I loved all the inside jokes poking fun at everything form Oscar bait films (“Never go full retard”, while offensive on it’s face, is a very true assessment of the Oscar system) to overzealous execs who care more about money than the well being of their actors. The overindulgence of Hollywood and these actors is demonstrated at the “Hotel” in Viet Nam that they are staying that. It has obviously been redone to resemble something out of a rap video producers wet dream.
The jokes in this film come fast and furious at times but rather than the scattershot approach of the films of Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow (keep shooting till we improv something funny), Ben Stiller’s script and jokes are on target every time. There are a few that fall flat, but that may have been more due to repetition than to the joke not being funny. (my humble opinion) The acting is strong from everyone in this film and quite surprising. On a personal note, please Tom Cruise: take more roles like this! I actually liked you in this film and that hasn’t happened since…ummm…maybe Minority Report?
And although a few of the running gags wear thin (I’m looking at you Jack Black) I have to say that the ending was a pleasant surprise and I honestly can’t wait for the dvd to see what was cut out of the film.
If I had to rate this film, I would give it 4 STARS out of 5.