Tropic Thunder (R) looks like it'll be as crudely hilarious as Pineapple Express, now in theaters. Ben Stiller directs, co-writes and stars as Tugg Speedman, an action movie star whose latest project has a strong cast mired in real-life Southeast Asian warfare.
Tugg's co-stars include Fats Portnoy (Jack Black), a heroin-addicted comedian modeled on John Belushi and Chris Farley. Brandon T. Jackson plays Alpa Chino (say the name slowly). Most outrageously there's Australian actor and five-time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), whose Method leads to chemically altering his skin color to play an African-American.
The red-band trailer for Tropic Thunder depicts graphically violent, relentlessly offensive humor. It also suggests Downey will knock his role out of the park. What preview trailers don't show is Tom Cruise's brief role as a bald, corpulent and profane movie producer. That sideshow alone may be worth the ticket price.
A review of Tropic Thunder will appear Wednesday on Etc, Page 2B.
Steve Persall, Times film critic