“From Robert Downey Jr.‘s purposely racist embodiment of African-American anachronisms to Jack Black‘s scatological humor, everything in Tropic Thunder qualifies as satire, not spoof. It’s an important distinction. Pauline Kael once noted that ‘unlike satire, spoofing has no serious objectives; it doesn’t attack anything that anyone could take seriously; it has no cleansing power.’

“Thus, the movie opens with inane fake trailers to introduce its fictional stars, surpassing the ones in Grindhouse for espousing actual ideas. Director-cowriter and star Ben Stiller offers a catharsis for everyone overburdened by bombastic storytelling, but even when the movie becomes playfully self-reflexive, it remains a keenly layered narrative.
“He returns to the movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie metafilter so many times that the gimmick forces you to pay close attention and believe in the events as they transpire, without sacrificing the absurd edge of the equation. Jumping back and forth between Grossman’s office and the jungle, Tropic Thunder recalls the comical dread of Dr. Strangelove, where Stanley Kubrick cut between the war room and a nuke-wielding B-52. This one could have the subtitle How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blockbuster.” — from Eric Kohn‘s review on premiere.com, posted yesterday.