Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Lighten Up People
I have written before about Hollywood caving to special interest groups . Well, I am glad to finally report of a case where they didn't.
Ben Stiller's new movie, "Tropic Thunder" opens this weekend. I highly recommend it. It was very funny in both a base and high brow kind of way. Do you know why I feel comfortable recommending it? Because I SAW IT. I wonder if any of the groups complaining can say the same.
Quick synopsis: A bunch of actors filming a Veit Nam war epic accidentally stumble into a real war, but think they are still filming the movie.
That description doesn't really do it justice. I wouldn't necessarily see the film based on that logline. Luckily the film is much more.
There is a potential controversial element to the film. Robert Downey Jr., playing seven time academy award winner "Kirk Lazarus" undergoes a skin darkening procedure to portray a black man in the "film" within the film. Yes. A white man in black face.
And you know what? No one has complained. Not yet, fingers crossed. "Kirk Lazarus" is an amazing parody of the current generation of actors that think they are all "method" and recreating Robert DeNiro's weight gain in "Raging Bull" by completely immersing themselves in a role. How ridiculous is it that Lazarus actually BECOMES BLACK to play a black man? Does anyone else see how insane and genius that piece of satire is? I hope so. Downey's role is also perfectly complimented by Brandon T. Jackson's character "Alpa Chino" (another great satire of both rappers turned actors and rappers' obsession with anything Scar Face related) who is constantly offended by "Lazarus" and calls him on all his misguided, racist bullshit.
Ironically, the NAACP is not the group complaining. It is the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the American Association of People with Disabilities and about 18 more. Why? Simple Jack of course.
Ben Stiller plays "Tug Speedman," an over the top action hero not known for his acting skills ala Van Damme, Segal, Ahnold etc. In another brilliant piece of industry satire, Stiller's biggest flop was his attempt at a "serious" film, playing the lead character in the story of a retarded man, "Simple Jack."
Again, genius. There is a great line in "Bowfinger" when Eddie Murphy's movie star character says, "Don't you know they only give Oscars to people who play retards or slaves? Someone find me the role of a retarded slave!" Stiller's character thinks he can get acting cred by playing a mentally challenged man, badly.
There is an amazing exchange between Stiller's character, Speedman, and Downey's "credible actor" Lazarus. I am paraphrasing but you will get the jist...
Stiller: There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded.
Downey: Oh yeah. Damn.
Stiller: In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb.
Downey: To be a moron.
Downey: To be moronical.
Downey: An imbecile.
Stiller: Yeah. When I was playing a character.
Downey: When you was a character.
Stiller: Yeah, I mean, as Jack. Definitely.
Downey: It’s like working with mercury. It’s how science makes art form.
Downey: You an artist.
Stiller: It’s what we do, right?
Downey: Everybody knows you never do a full retard.
Stiller: What do you mean?
Downey: Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, Rainman, look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic. Sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump. Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and he won a ping-pong competition? That ain’t retarded. Sean Penn in that "I Am Sam?" No Oscar. He went full retard. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard.
I am sorry, but that's fucking funny.
at 11:12 AM