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Will Ben Stiller finally get the last awards laugh for 'Tropic Thunder'?

August 14, 2008 | 11:47 am

While funnyman Ben Stiller continues to bring his fresh approach to a string of successful comedies with the just-opened "Tropic Thunder," he is treated like old-time comic Rodney Dangerfield at showbiz awards: He gets no respect.

Despite appearances in such box-office smashes as "Night at the Museum" and both "Meet the Parents" and sequel "Meet the Fockers," Ben Stiller's mantle is surprisingly bare. He did win an Emmy Award for being part of the writing team of his short-lived self-titled TV variety show back in 1992. However, all this son of TV stars Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara has to show for his 15 years of films are three MTV Movie Awards and one win at the Teen Choice Awards. He has racked up 14 nods apiece with these two popular vote contests.


And it is unlikely that, despite some glowing notices, "Tropic Thunder" will change this lack of love for Stiller. Meta Critic scores the Hollywood satire at a respectable 73 while the top tier of critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes comes in at 84. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said, "It's raunchy, outspoken — and also a smart and agile dissection of art, fame, and the chutzpah of big-budget productions" while David Ansen of Newsweek calls it "the funniest movie of the summer."

While Ben Stiller wrote, directed and stars in the movie, his co-stars get the lion's share of good reviews. As Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, "All but stealing the show, Robert Downey Jr. is not merely funny but also very good and sometimes even subtle as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian actor who has won five Oscars and has surgically dyed his skin to transform himself into a black man." Jack Black also gets kudos for skewering his typical manic movie style while Tom Cruise scores in a showy supporting role as a studio chief.

For Stiller, attention has focused instead on his controversial depiction of the developmentally challenged in a subplot of the movie. He told ABC, "In the context of the film I think it's really clear, they were making fun of the actors who try to use serious subjects to win awards."

Ironically, his satirizing such craven moves on the part of his Hollywood brethren is unlikely to win him any awards. His best shot at an acting nod would be at the Golden Globes, which have ignored him in the past. Instead, his co-stars in "Something About Mary" (Cameron Diaz) and "Meet the Parents" (Robert De Niro) have gotten the nods.

While the Golden Globes have shunned Stiller, they have embraced the antics of other, similar comic hipsters. Jim Carrey got nods for his over-the-top turns in "The Mask" and "Liar Liar" before winning for his dramatic take in "The Truman Show" and his seriocomic performance in "Man on the Moon. " Carrey even picked up a nom for playing the title role in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas. " "Saturday Night Live" alum Adam Sandler ("Punch Drunk Love") and Will Ferrell ("Stranger Than Fiction") had to show their softer side before getting Globe nods as did Jack Black ("School of Rock"). Stiller may well have to be content counting the money he will make from "Tropic Thunder," which may well bump "The Dark Knight" from the top of the box office charts this weekend.


The comments to this entry are closed.


A vulgar movie that could have been written by a ten year old. Not funny at all. I walked out.

Sorry to offend sensibilities - but I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I saw the early press regarding the "Retard" issue, and while I certainly sympathize with those for whom life has made it a personal issue for self or loved ones, I'm not ready to pull the plug on the movie.

There was lots of gratuitous foul language too - and some pretty uncomfortable scenes which touched a variety of other sensitive nerves.

Perhaps it's because I'm a man that I enjoyed it as much as I did - despite the discomfort. I could see where my wife wouldn't be able to overcome the cringe factor - but then, she won't see it anyway..

For what it is - an entertainment vehicle... a movie - I give it 4 stars for great writing, great special effects, and the plethora of unexpected stars in diverse roles.

ok people. let the retard thing GO. my goodness!! They say the word like what? 3-5 times? goodness! They aren't making fun of mentally disabled people! please, someone tell me how saying the word retard is making fun of mentally disabled? I'm not saying that the word retard is offensive, but they didn't use it in an offensive way. And I definitly think Ben should get ATLEAST a nomintaion for directing and writing cause this film in my opinion is comedic genius. One of the funniest movies I have heard (and will see) in YEARS! if you think its offensive dont see it. Dont tell other people not to see it though. Cause really, it just makes people more curious therefore more people will go to see it. so...yeah. lol i'm sorry I was ranting. lol. thats just my opinion.

Ben Stilller is an ass. He is sometimes funny playing himself over and over again in films.
Awards for acting or writing? I think not.

Lets face it the assault on Topic Thunder has nothing to do with using the word retard. Taken in context there is no slur here toward those with disabilities. The attack on Stiller has everything to do with the films' satyric critique of war propaganda movies their encouragement to the children of working people and the poor to go to war by rich Hollywood stars.

Stiller, Black and Downey should do a movie making fun of short people. I don't think any of them are tall enough to reach the counter at a convenience that would be hilarious.

For anyone to be offended by Tropic Thunder means that they missed the whole point. They are skewering actors who go that far in a preformance just to win awards. For people to take it so seriously means that either: A) They need some poon, B) Are literalist C) They are just people who have no sense of humor. This especially goes for that grandmother

What Ben Stiller fails to remember, is that using "retard" is exactly like using the word "nigger." There are generally two types of black people (when it comes to the n-word). Those that find no harm in the word, and those that do. If you're not black, and you use it in any way that could be construed as hateful, you're labeled a racist. Yet, there are those black people who hate the word in any context, even when other black people say it. "Retard" is not a word that is exclusive to any race, religion, or nationality, just simply human beings. How is making fun of the retarded any more acceptable in ANY context? There are far less mentally disabled people in any given country than ANY group of people assigned a slur. When there were black slaves who were forced to be under-educated and they were a minority, was it any less wrong to call THEM niggers, just because they were few and did not have the knowledge or power to stand up for themselves???

I think the biggest reason why the two words are so similar is because when they are heard by people who relate to them, it brings about an unbelievable amount of negative feelings. For black people, I'm sure it's the many years of violence and oppression. For people who live with or take care of the disabled, it shows blatant disrespect for how they've spent their life taking care of someone they love, and the struggles they've had. Especially to those who take care of someone who can't take care of themselves.

I'm not saying I'll boycott this film or Ben Stiller. If people use slurs, that's fine, I just don't laugh. I just hope this gets posted to enlighten people reading this article who can't seem to make this obvious connection, or understand why the "r-word" is so offensive.

Sorry this was so damn long. :P

Remember when Chris Rock said all those jokes about Jude Law and nobody laughed?

Hey, Mr. Stiller. I am not laughing.

Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller,should get an Oscar for keeping awake the human psyche for the 21st century. That's what movies are for.

It's really clear when you see the movie - it's satirizing big-budget films that, as Stiller said, USE people to make money. In no way does it make fun of or disparage the differently abled. A word can't hurt you, people! It's how it's used - and how it's used in this movie isn't offensive at all, or shouldn't be taken that way. This is one of the funniest movie's I've ever seen. Both Stiller and Downey deserve awards for their acting, and Stiller for writing and directing. It is a SMART comedy. And crude, and offensive, and gory...

I sure hope Ben Stiller does not get an award for a movie that uses the work Retarded repeatedly. That is so offensive to me, a grandmother of a boy with Downs Syndrome. How dare the industry and Ben Stiller think this is funny. It is no funnier than calling someone Nigger or Fag or any other racial slur. I hope the movie is a flop and I used to like Ben Stiller. I do not respect his taste in movies any more and will obstain from watching anything with him in it.

he ain't that funny

Of course his mantle is bare. He's a one trick pony. He plays the same annoying character time and time again. He's not an actor, he's a bad joke.

Way to go retards..make the movie even more money!!

If Stiller can continue to write comedic gold like Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, a screenplay nomination might be within the next 10 years for him.

Not a win; a nomination



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