Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/United Kingdom/Germany, 2008. DreamWorks, Red Hour Films, Goldcrest Pictures, Internationale Filmproduktion Stella-del-Sud Second. Story by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Screenplay by Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Etan Cohen. Cinematography by John Toll. Produced by Stuart Cornfeld, Eric McLeod, Ben Stiller. Music by Theodore Shapiro. Production Design by Jeff Mann. Costume Design by Marlene Stewart. Film Editing by Greg Hayden. Academy Awards 2008. Boston Film Critics Awards 2008. Golden Globe Awards 2008. New York Film Critics Awards 2008.
Ben Stiller continues his assault on the pretensions of show business with this hilarious follow-up to Zoolander. This time Hollywood itself is the target of the acidic humour as a once-famous, now crumbling action movie star (Stiller), a drug-addicted comedian (Jack Black) and a multiple award-winning, troubled but devoted actor (Robert Downey Jr.) go to Vietnam to shoot a war epic that will be the last word in dramatic intensity. It’s also a runaway production with budget issues that the live-via-satellite producer (Tom Cruise in a fat suit) insists must be wrapped up or else dismissals will ensue. The author of the novel upon which this Platoon meets Apocalypse Now epic is based on (Nick Nolte) suggests sending the cast into a remote jungle location for some boot camp training but, when they get there, things go awry, particularly when they meet genuine heroin farmers whom they have no idea aren’t actually extras in the shoot. Justin Theroux, the wonderful actor from Mulholland Drive and Six Feet Under, contributes a screenplay that constantly takes Tinseltown to task for its excesses (especially perfect are the fake trailers that precede the opening credits) but also puts forward an entertaining and involving plot. The performances are all brilliant, particularly Downey as the method actor so devoted to his craft that even the limits of race don’t stop him from doing his job.