Having seen Tropic Thunder (twice), Michael Cieply‘s statement in an 8.2 N.Y. Times article that Paramount executives are facing “the delicate task of selling what may be the raunchiest comedy yet in a summer that has seen more than its share” seems bizarre. The film isn’t raunchy at all; it’s merely extreme. And that’s an appropriate tone given (a) the necessity of any comedy to push the envelope to at least some degree, and (b) the extremities (emotional, psychedelic, whatever) that are expected from any film dealing with the Vietnam war.
The scene in which director-cowriter-star Ben Stiller “slurps gore from a human head” is, no lie, fairly funny. Ditto Robert Downey Jr. wearing blackface throughout (although the humor is in Downey’s vocal attempts to sound “black”). And the extended gag about “Hollywood’s weakness for what they impolitely call retards,” as Ceiply puts it, is about the rules that actors and Hollywood directors have followed in portraying characters with disabilities.
How are the Thunder guys supposed to refer to these characters? As mentally or emotionally “challenged”? As “handicapped”? The word “retard” is funny; the others are not.