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Tropic Thunder and Vicky Christina Barcelona: tale of two tales

Joel D. Amos is a Los Angeles-based writer, and the Senior Entertainment Editor here at SheKnows. He has interviewed numerous celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Katherine Heigl, Rachel McAdams, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaw...

Thunder and lightning

SheKnows film, it is a proven fact! And now our readers are learning more through our Film Fanatic. Each week, you get the SheKnows Yea or Nay on the good, bad and ugly movies premiering in theaters.

Tropic Thunder and Vicky Christina Barcelona are on two ends of the movie spectrum. Yet, as can only happen so effectively in the summer season, they arrive this same August weekend. The SheKnows Film Fanatatic lets you in on both.

Two very different films, one fantastic summer weekend

From Woody Allen's latest relationship drama-comedy starring Penelope Cruz, her current boyfriend and Oscar-winner, Javier Bardem, and Scarlett Johansson in this romantic, funny film without a single bomb exploding to Tropic Thunder, where Ben Stiller mocks the Hollywood institution of the explosive movie, this weekend produces two diverse options.

Isn't summer a movie fans' Crayola Crayon box of cinematic variety? Are either worth their weight?

Tropic Thunder: Yea (with reservations)

This film gets a Film Fanatic Yea with reservations. Tropic Thunder will not be for everyone. The film is all Ben Stiller. He co-wrote and directed this enormous picture that is truly his own milestone in its explosive comic madness.

A Thunderbott of comedyThe film also stars Robert Downey Jr and Jack Black as action heroes filming a movie that suddenly find themselves fighting a real war.

But still, again, this film is not for everyone. In thes tandard summer fare arena, it is outstanding. In the vein of film classics that lampoon Hollywood, Tropic Thunder gets it right in ways The Player did fifteen years prior.

Ben Stiller stars as an action hero seeking an Apocalypse Now type drama to win accolades. He and his co-stars have gone deep into the Vietnam jungle to film their epic. Along for the comic ride is Jack Black whose character has made a living of portraying overweight, flatulence riddled pop culture icons. Sounds familiar?

It is that type of self mockery that is what makes Tropic Thunder a triumph.

Where problems may arise is with audiences who may find several characterizations portrayed offensively. It will be interesting to watch the reaction to how Robert Downey Jr.'s character goes so method acting, that he darkens his skin. Downey has taken black face and took it to the extreme. Watching him portray a black man is a little uncomfortable at points, yet the actor is magnificent as an art house movie star with three Oscars to his name who is seeking his redemption in the form of a hit movie.

Ben and Robert share a moment in the jungle

It is easy to see what the film is going for in that statement. But at the end of the day we live in a image driven society where the film still of Downey with full African-American features may disturb some and others may completely grasp where filmmakers were going with their humor.

The controversy also arising over the use of a mentally challenged character is handled with the same comic heavy handedness that is projected off of Downey's characterization of a man so into his character he literally changes his skin color.

It is no more offending than the use of a mentally challenged character in There's Something About Mary.

Stiller and Allen share more than a summer movie release date...

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