“As a director I love all the visual and technical stuff and it’s really fun to do but the hard lesson that you learn when you screen the movie is when it’s a comedy, people want to laugh. They don’t care about the explosions up or how much money you spent…if they’re not laughing, the movie’s not working. Everything has to play into the tone of the comedy.” — Tropic Thunder director-star-cowriter Ben Stiller during last weekend’s press junket.

Ben Stiller

And yet the fact that Stiller made Tropic Thunder feel believable and well-jiggered in a first-class way let me relax on a certain level. If the action choreography, special effects and cinematic values hadn’t been delivered on such a high level, I might not have been in a receptive laugh-y mood. I can’t laugh at movies that feel in the least bit sloppy or imprecise or roughly slapped together. Comedy is a brutally difficult thing to get right.