Robert Downey Jr Month #4: Tropic Thunder, The Judge

Tropic Thunder

When a group of world renowned actors get together to film the ultimate Vietnam war movie, trouble soon arises as childish antics on set land the director in trouble. Forced into a desperate plot to save the film, the director casts his actors into the jungle to film the movie, when suddenly real dangers appear. Robert Downey Jr. is surrounded with a star studded cast consisting of Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Steve Coogan, and Tom Cruise. The movie, written and directed by Ben Stiller, presents a comical take on the film industry. Tropic Thunder has a cast of comedy gold with classic Ben Stiller sarcasm. In contrast with many other spoofs of its kind, Tropic Thunder provides just the right amount of puns and cliches without being too overbearing to the audience. Part of this is due to unique qualities of the characters. Robert Downey Jr.’s role as the “ultimate method actor” has to be one of the best acting performances and character roles in a spoof to date. In addition, the hilarious delivery of lines by the other talented actors also helps the appeal of this movie rank over that of other, less star studded, spoofs. However, one knock to this movie is it’s predictability. Sometimes it seems as though you could call the punch line to a joke before it even happens. Although, given the genre of the movie this is to be expected and I commend the actors on being able to deliver the predictable punch lines better than I could ever imagine.

The Judge

During difficult times in Chicago, defense attorney Hank Palmer is informed that his mother has died. While returning to his hometown to attend the funeral, his father ends up on the other side of the judgement seat in court and requires Hank’s help. Palmer runs to the defense of his father in a case that may hold the pieces to his family’s past. Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall land a unique connection in their father-son relationship during the film. Paired with the directing of David Dobkin, The Judge provides moments of dramatic magic which range from intense courtroom scenes to more subdued one on one confrontations. However, as with any film, the length of the movie is something to consider. Such dramatic moments can only be enjoyed and appreciated for so long until the viewer becomes worn out. With an overall run time of just under two and a half hours, you may find yourself losing focus midway through the movie. Also, certain characters’ motivations and thinking goes without explanation, which leaves certain holes in the story. This is more of a writing issue rather than a lapse in competent acting. In short, The Judge is a ‘movie with a good story and great actors who have little to say. Luckily, the nominee worthy performances by Robert Duvall and Robert Downy Jr. save this film from what might have been a dismal fate if equipped with less talented actors. Due to the actor’s superb performances the audience is actually left with something to connect and relate to.

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