In the action-comedy "Tropic Thunder," Ben Stiller plays pampered action superstar Tugg Speedman, who is cast in the biggest, most expensive war movie ever produced. He sets out to Southeast Asia with a "Who's Who" of celebrity co-stars. They include Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), an intense, three-time Oscar-winning actor; Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), star of the popular gross-out comedy franchise "The Fatties"; multi-platinum hiphop-star-turned-entrepreneur-turned-actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); and first-timer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Soon after the production begins the actors are thrown into a real-life situation and are forced to become the fighting unit they're portraying, in order to find a way out of the jungle in one piece.
Barreling down a deserted Hollywood boulevard at the pitch-black hour of 4:12 am this morning, I noticed one lone man standing at the corner of Highland Avenue holding a sign. He trembled in the moderately cool air, bare-chested and wearing a latex Batman mask he'd pilfered from one of the local viral events that transpired over the summer. His hand-painted piece of cardboard read, "Wish me well." While stopped at the light in front of the Hollywood and Highland complex, this seemingly older man noticed my Academy Award credentials and winked. He knew I was headed to the award nomination announcements and needed my encouragement. I waved, wishing I could have snapped a picture.
The man's wish came true, as Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker and Academy President Sid Ganis read the nominations aloud this morning. The Dark Knight was nominated in 8 different categories including best supporting actor for Heath Ledger, art direction, cinematography, film editing, and visual effects. None of which really come as a surprise at all. Probably the two biggest surprises of the morning came with the announcements for Best Actor and Actress. While some people had predicted Richard Jenkins as a longshot for his performance in The Visitor, no one imagined that Melissa Leo would slide into the Best Actress category for her work in the hardly noticed Frozen River. Gasps where audible as Whitaker announced her name to the packed house.Read More
Best Romance: All in all, this was a pretty lean year for both the romantic drama and the romantic comedy. Maybe that's why the best romance of the year came courtesy of a girl with a pig snout. In Penelope, Christina Ricci played a cursed socialite with a horrifyingly deformed nose. It took Wanted's James McAvoy to warm her cold heart, and a scooter trip with Reese Witherspoon for her to learn how to love herself. In the process, she gave us one of the most unique love stories of the year. Sure, Never Back Down flirted with the idea of a teenage love affair, but it was mostly about breaking bones and defining punches. The relationship held between Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight was heartbreaking, but again, there was too much movie going on to really look at their sad state of affairs. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was sweet, but relied a little too much on its own gross-out humor to be a winning romance. Which only leaves Sex and the City: The Movie and the Richard Gere/Diane Lane weep fest Nights in Rodanthe as worthy successors to Penelope's plight in life. One film was age affirming and socially gratifying for woman over the age of thirty, and they other was a heart breaker that offered hope only to crush those dreams in its last few fleeting moments of screen time. All three are great romance films, yes. But they faced little to no competition and were released far enough apart that they didn't need to compete for their audiences.
Comeback of the Year: There were so many. 2008 was definitely the Year of the Comeback. Sylvester Stallone revamped Rambo. Tom Cruise won back audience members with his cameo in Tropic Thunder. Vern Troyer gave two winning performances with both Postal and The Love Guru, and Audrey II the outer space houseplant was back terrifying people in The Ruins. But it was really Mickey Rourke and Robert Downey Jr. that made the most noise. These two master magicians fell off the map due to their own personal demons in life. And in 2008, they reemerged as the most talked about performers of the past year. Both put in excellent work, but it was Downey that truly came out on top. Where Rourke had the acclaimed The Wrestler, Downey came with four great films that included Iron Man, Charlie Bartlett, Tropic Thunder, and the withheld drama The Soloist. There's no doubt about it. 2008 was the year of Robert Downey Jr., and he didn't disappoint at all. Let's hope he keeps up this golden boy run in 2009.Read More
1) Tropic Thunder $14.3
Next week continues the end of summer film drought with Nicolas Cage in Bangkok Dangerous and Matthew McConaughey in Surfer, Dude.Read More
DreamWorks Pictures has made the original documentary Rain of Madness available for free download exclusively at the iTunes Store.
CLICK HERE to go to the iTunes Store.Read More
Next week will mark the end of the summer movie going season, and the box office revenue will be down even further than it was this weekend. On the horizon we have Don Cheadle in Traitor, which opens on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, you have the weird mix of Vin Diesel in Babylon A.D., the spoof Disaster Movie, the teen comedy College, and the very weird Asian Western Sukiyaki Western Django directed by cult icon Takashi Miike and starring Quentin Tarantino. Which one will come out on top? If I had to make a guess, I'd say Disaster Movie is going to be our number flick of next week.
Tropic Thunder was released August 13th, 2008.Read More