Viewed – 28 Feb 2009 Blu-ray
I like Ben Stiller, as although I don’t consider him a laugh-out-loud funny actor on a par with Jim Carey at his best or Steve Martin when he was funny, he remains a likable screen presence elevating otherwise run of the mill fair like Meet The Parents to classic status.
This directorial and star outing for him seems his most ambitious film yet with some big names filling out the cast with Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Nick Nolte and even Tom Cruise. Following the story of a maverick director (Steve Coogan) intent on making the best Vietnam War movie ever, the big pull here is that the actors suddenly find themselves faced with a real conflict involving Vietnamese drug dealers, who think the actors are real U.S. marines. A great concept, I’m sure you’ll agree, and with no small amount of big-budget action and some tongue-in-cheek references to classic war movies thrown in, this is great entertainment.
Ben Stiller plays a past-his-best action movie star that is an obvious stab at the 80s reliance of be-muscled no-brain action icons, and is an interesting if rather pathetic creation. Jack Black’s drug-addled comedy actor is quite simply irritating and out of place, but the casting is saved by a superb Robert Downy Jr as the method thesp who has had his skin colour changed to play a grizzled black Sergeant … and is a gag that never wears thin. Tom Cruise lends support as a loud mouthed media mogul, all bald head, hairy chest and flab, and is obviously Cruise trying to reach out to a wider audience … but his comedy is over the top and rather embarrassing.
Thankfully the action and pace of this is fairly unrelenting and there are some priceless moments. For a NAM movie it looks superb, represented vividly on Blu-ray and is worth having in your collection as an ‘impress your friends’ disc when wanting to show off your system. Some of the humour may feel a bit stretched at times, but the characters on a whole make for a likable team of fish-out-of-water buddies up against impossible odds.
Verdict: 3 /5