R, 1 hr. 47 min. Directed by: Ben Stiller. Release Date: Aug 13, 2008. DVD Release Date: Nov 18, 2008.
Robert Downey Jr. really shows his versatility as an actor here. I'm serious. Stop laughing at me. I still think the Academy was in the grip of a stroke when they nominated him for an Oscar last year for this performance, but now that I've seen this movie, I get why. In the hour and three-quarters that we're subjected to this, he manages to live up to, in perfect detail, every stereotype Americans have about African-Americans, Australians, and actors without even breaking a sweat. I was really impressed. He was a bit less than subtle putting in those blue contacts towards the end, but still he was head and shoulders above his co-stars here.
Makeup here is a huge asset to this performance. I didn't even recognize Tom Cruise until he takes off his glasses at the end of the movie. Downey Jr's makeup was also pretty exceptional, although for someone who underwent "pigmentation" surgery, the dark skin tones wipe away pretty clean once those blue contacts get shoved in.
The story pretty much blows. There's little about this that makes sense, and while I suspect this is a sideways poke at Hollywood's general ignorance in its quest for the next big picture, it made the whole process look much less thought-powered than I suspect it truly is. The story is seconded only by some of the performances here, most of which lean towards the cheese. Stiller, in particular, is pretty awful, and does the same stupid routine and posturing that he adopted somewhere around Zoolander. Okay, wait. He probably picked it up in Mystery Men. The parallels between Stiller's character's Hollywood career and his real acting career are marked, and you have to wonder if he's finally agreed with us that he sucks.
Why would you have a discussion about going "full retard," referencing Sean Penn, and not discuss Jim Carrey in ANY of his movies?