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Wall-E and Tropic Thunder: Disappointing

November 25, 2008

What these movies have in common is that they didn’t live up to my expectations.

Wall-E was cute in its way, but it wasn’t terrific. Why did I expect terrific? Because I’m spoiled by the high quality animated films produced by Pixar, Dreamworks and others over the last decade. And I don’t mean box office totals or animation techniques. I mean good stories. Ones that don’t insult the intelligence of adults or children. Ones that have solid character development and interesting plots. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but the plot Wall-E finds himself embroiled in (a fat, stupid, lazy and space-faring humanity waiting generations for signs of vegetation in order to reclaim a garbage-strewn earth) seemed somehow insulting, joyless, and–worst of all–boring. It wasn’t a bad movie. I think I just went into it with higher expectations.

Tropic Thunder simply wasn’t that funny. I’ll admit that there was some amusement in watching Tom Cruise play an influential Hollywood asshole (what a stretch that must have been!). And I’ll further admit that Robert Downey Jr. as a white man playing a black man was probably worth the rental fee all by itself. No, the problem here wasn’t Downey, Cruise or Jack Black–it was Ben Stiller.

I don’t like Stiller, that’s no secret. But he not only starred in this film, he directed it and even has a writing credit! I honestly believe that it was his “professionally annoying” shtick ruining the film on several levels. Plus, there were plot holes big enough to drive a HumVee through. (A guy with no hands and a movie director are able to single-handedly saturate with remote movie cameras a vast area of jungle that only hours later is too filled with armed drug thugs for our heroes to navigate without risking life and limb. Yeah, I’ll buy that.)

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  1. This was one of Stiller’s worst performances. I liked him in Zoolander, Something About Mary, and Meet the Parents (but not Meet The Fockers). I also saw him on the stage in New York along side Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Peet in a play called This Is How It Goes where I though he did very well. But most of his other efforts are pretty lame

    Robert Downey Jr., as usual, stole the show. I’ve loved him since Weird Science.

    Wall-E was weird but entertaining enough – having watched it after a few beers and a snifter of cognac.



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