Ben Stiller’s comedy career has been on the downslope lately. Without doing the google, I can’t really remember any great Ben Stiller comedies since “There’s Something About Mary” and “Zoolander”. OK, maybe “Meet The Parents”. But those were his high point, I think.
In fact, the more I think about it, great Ben Stiller comedies rely on Ben Stiller sharing screen time with another comedic actor. “Zoolander” had Owen Wilson. “There’s Something About Mary” had, incredibly, Matt Damon – and who knew he’d be great in a comedy? “Meet The Parents” introduced the idea of Robert De Niro being genuinely funny.
And “Tropic Thunder” benefits greatly from Robert Downey, Jr.
Yes, I love Jack Black. The man owns a lightning suit, for fuck’s sake. And Jack Black has many funny moments in “Tropic Thunder” (including, but definitely not limited to, the line quoted in the title of this post). But Robert Downey, Jr. and Ben Stiller are clearly sharing the starring roles in this movie. And that was a wise decision on Ben Stiller’s part, I think.
In fact, this is nearly an ensemble movie. Tom Cruise is so freakin’ awkward and try-hard that I can’t help but laugh at him. Jay Baruchel, of all people, is the straight man, the guy who grounds the rest of the comedy. Nick Nolte’s mumbling burnout nonsense-philosophy-spouting veteran is note-perfect.
Holy fuck I loved this movie. I was barking laughter, looking around at the rest of the audience, seeing that they, too, were laughing just like me, and then giving in to the laughs.