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Tropic Thunder Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It's raunchy, outspoken -- and also a smart and agile dissection of art, fame, and the chutzpah of big-budget productions.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Like a dinner whose hors d'oeuvres are far more satisfying and well-composed than the slightly warmed-over main course. Among them are the inspired mock movie trailers and the fake ad that precede "Thunder's" opening credits.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Downey is absurdly funny.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Stiller manages his movie nicely so that all actors get their share of the comic spotlight. Seldom does an ensemble comedy not contain a single weak character or performance as does this one.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    When it's all over, you'll probably have the fondest memories of Robert Downey Jr.'s work. It's been a good year for him, this one coming after "Iron Man." He's back, big time.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Showbiz satire is witty, violent, controversial.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this hard-R action comedy starring kid favorites Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and (thanks to Iron Man) Robert Downey Jr. is really a satirical send-up of Hollywood culture -- from the stereotypical castes of actors and greedy studio heads to celeb-obsessed TV shows. Much has been made of some of the movie's more controversial sources of humor, including having Downey darken his skin to play an African-American character and a running gag about a mentally challenged man played by Stiller's character. It's all meant to drive home the movie's points about Hollywood, but you may need to explain that to teens. There's also a lot of gory violence (both fake and realistic) -- including a 12-year-old drug lord who's scary and good with weapons -- as well as enough swear words to make Quentin Tarantino blush. Drugs (use and manufacture) are part of a significant subplot, but there are basically no women in the film, so there's only brief mention of sex.

  • Families can talk about satire. Do teens get that everything in the movie is satirizing formulaic Hollywood blockbusters, insecure actors, mindless celebrity gossip shows, etc.? What do they think about Downey playing an African American? Funny? Offensive? How is it different than the now-unacceptable practice of white actors performing in blackface for minstrel shows? And what about the "retard" characterizations? Ask your teens whether they thought it was amusing or off-putting, and see if they can explain their point of view. It will help them see the material critically. How does the movie-within-a-movie allow the filmmakers to poke fun at the film industry?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Robert Downey Jr.'s character is a Caucasian actor who undergoes a skin-darkening procedure to play an African-American soldier; while in character, his demeanor is purposely stereotypical. There's also a running gag about "retards" regarding Ben Stiller's character's portrayal of a mentally challenged man. Both of these issues are meant to illustrate the movie's theme: that Hollywood is full of self-absorbed prima donnas who need to stop being so insecure and egotistical. There's also finger-pointing at audiences who eat up tabloid fodder and mindless entertainment.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: At first the blood-and-guts gore is fake (part of the movie-within-a-movie's makeup/special effects), but at a certain point it becomes real. Graphic violence includes a man's body exploding; a menacing young boy (possibly a young teen) toting machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and handguns; a decapitated head being played with; body parts strewn around; many explosions and close-up shots of G-4 and other explosives; a toddler knifing someone and being comically thrown off a bridge (but surviving), and much more.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The men discuss relationships, and one closeted character proclaims he loves "p---y" while another talks crudely about how he'd perform oral sex on the gay man in exchange for help out of a predicament. Other than that, just a quick kiss at the end between an actor and his date.

  • language false5

    Language: Nearly every sentence includes explicit language, with very few exceptions. This is a contender for most on-screen "F" bombs of the year. Along with the constant "f--k"s, "motherf----r," "p---y," "c--k," "c--t," and other hard-R words make several appearances.

  • consumerism false4

    Consumerism: Product placement is mocked with a fake energy drink called "Booty Sweat." Real brands include Diet Coke, Access Hollywood, TiVo (quite prominently), and the Gulfstream V jet.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A major subplot involves a heroin processing plant; a character is a heroin addict; various characters drink and smoke.