“Tropic Thunder” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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Tom Cruise may initally steal Robert Downey Jr’s thunder, but there’s no question it’s Downey who gives this hilarious satire its biggest bang for your buck.

Writer/director/star Ben Stiller brings Jack Black and Downey along for the ride as his costars of the movie within the movie, plopped down in the jungle for a Vietnam-era action flick. We know from the opening ‘previews” (a nifty trick to establish back history and reputation of said stars) Stiller’s the blow ‘em upper who really wants to just be taken seriously; Black’s the fat fart guy while Downey, on the other hand, is the extremely serious Australian actor, known for his many Oscars and staying in character until the DVD outtakes have been shot. Naturally, their styles don’t mesh, but somehow, it all comes together when the trio finds themselves stranded, facing a lethal compound of heroin dealers.

Nods to previous films aside, Thunder relies on slaps at actors’ egos and lots of explosions to keep us in its grip. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The action is ok, the jokes about Hollywood aren’t particularly new, but they’re pretty darn funny all the same. And Stiller is generous with his actors: Nick Nolte and Matthew McConaughey give their most on target performances in years; Cruise gets a lot of mileage from his puffed up studio chief, all bluster, venom and dancing spit. But I can’t forget Downey’s chancy and downright amazing performance as the Aussie in blackface. Nailing the many perspectives of this complicated character, Downey gives this otherwise pretty good comedy true, hilarious power.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).