Ben Stiller plays the stereotypical action hero who wants to finally have a serious role after trying and failing to Oscar-bait by starring as a mentally-challenged stable boy.
Jack Black plays the stereotypical comedy star who is in it for the money to continue is drug habit.
Robert Downey Jr. plays a 5-time Oscar winning Australian actor best known for his complete immersion in a role for months at a time. He also had surgery to portray the black sergent to challenge himself further.
Thoughts: I thought this movie was hilarious. Everything about it was great. Each character in the movie starts in reality, but is taken to obscene comic heights. The only character who isn’t very well developed is Stiller’s (who wrote, directed, and produced), who keeps his acting role to a minimum I think to make room for his other roles, unlike when he was the title character in Zoolander in addition to writing, directing, and producing it. The other characters are perfect portrayals of the actors who appear in movies today. The over-the-top comic, the method actor, the rapper-turned-actor, and the actor who actually takes his job seriously, all come across pretty convincingly. The ridiculous movie producer is a character you won’t soon forget, especially after you realize who is playing him.
The dialog was funny, if extremely vulgar. Some of it is vulgar for the sake of being vulgar, but that is probably how Hollywood behind the scenes actually is.
Downey is the stand-out star of this movie, cementing this as the Summer of Downey. His character’s unwillingness/inability to break character is hilarious but sad in a way. Ironically, Downey rarely broke character after filming stopped, immersing himself in a character who is a parody of actors who immerse themselves in their characters.
This movie is what parody/satire is all about, not Disaster Movie or Meet the Spartans. I heard that Ivan Reitman (director of Ghostbusters 1 & 2) said that sign of a good comedy is that you can take out all the jokes and it still be a good movie. By that definition, Tropic Thunder is a good comedy.
Overall: A great example of what satire should be.