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Tropic Thunder August 16, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Ben Stiller’s new directorial venture is a fun ride featuring a superb cast. The film is about the botched up shooting of a war movie in Vietnam. The film in this film features a five time Oscar winning method actor who dyes his skin black to play a black man, a fading action hero most famous for a disaster movie double trilogy and a drug addicted star famous for his fart comedy. When the young director of the doomed war movie is threatened by his studio boss for not being able to control the egoistic stars, he decides to put them in the middle of some real action to make his film more natural and things go hilariously wrong.

The film, written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen (not the Oscar winning Ethan Coen) is pretty much a bunch of satirical/comic scenes woven around this premise, primarily taking aim at Hollywood – from studio executives to agents to actors and directors (and this is the strongpoint of the film). But the actual plot itself, if anyone is interested, is uninteresting. Most of the film is over-the-top fun featuring a lot of big laughs and also a few that fall flat. The film also features some sidesplitting fake trailers (reminded me of Om Shanti Om more than Grindhouse).

The cast has a great time in this film. Robert Downey Jr is a riot and Tom Cruise is a very pleasant surprise (it took me a while to recognize him). Ben Stiller is also quite good and gets a lot of screen time. Jack Black gets overshadowed and I didn’t find the flatulence and drug gags funny. Matthew McConaughey and Nick Nolte are the other recognizable names while more show up in short cameos (watch out for Tobey Maguire in the Satan’s Alley trailer).

Watch this film if you are game for an outlandish R-rated comedy but remember that isn’t about the plot as much as it is about the humor.

The Heartbreak Kid October 3, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is forty and never married. When his longtime girlfriend gets married, he is advised by his father (real-life dad, Jerry Stiller) and his best friend Mac (Rob Corddry) to get hitched soon. He comes across the beautiful Lila (Malin Akerman) who is an environmental researcher and decides to marry her despite his doubts. As the honeymoon in Cabo, Eddie realizes that Lila isn’t the one for him. Meanwhile, he meets Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) and falls in love with her but is somehow unable to tell her the truth about his married life, leading to all sorts of confusion. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

The Heartbreak Kid (releasing this weekend) is a remake of sorts of a 1972 film of the same name that had a screenplay written by Neil Simon (that was in turn based on a short story by Bruce Jay Friedman, called A Change of Plan). The original film is said to based on race and has some social relevance but this one doesn’t. The Farrelly Brothers, who directed and co-wrote this with three other writers (Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon and Kevin Barnett), change the setting and tone of the film considerably. Neither is the story outstanding nor is the premise exciting but what makes this predictable film worth a watch is the comedy. The setting is used as a framework to incorporate a number of hilarious situations and unanticipated gags to entertain the audience. The Farrelly brothers have been successful with their previous adult comedies and though this isn’t their best work, the raunchy humor does make a mark for the target audience.

The film is helped further by some capable comedic actors. Ben Stiller does a good job as usual and dad Jerry gets in on the action too. Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III) is very likable as the romantic interest while Malin Akerman gets to do some of the more outrageous scenes. Comedian Carlos Mencia plays Uncle Tito in a fun cameo.

This film is not as funny as There’s Something About Mary or as crazy as Me, Myself and Irene. This is actually a simple romantic comedy, a love triangle that is given an R-rated twist, Farrelly brothers’ style. The film has some solid laughs and it makes the cut for me (I didn’t expect much more) but those expecting a non-stop laugh riot with one gag after another or those looking for an intelligent comedy could be somewhat disappointed.