Although Tropic Thunder includes controversial elements, including Robert Downey Jr. in blackface, director Ben Still has no regrets about the film.

Tropic Thunder director Ben Stiller reveals that he has no regrets about the movie, despite some of the more controversial elements. Released in 2008, Tropic Thunder tells the story of a group of actors who find themselves in a very real war zone while trying to film a Vietnam War epic. The film was a hit with critics and performed well at the box office, but not all elements of the comedy have aged particularly well.

In response to a fan of the film on Twitter, Stiller affirms that he’s still proud of Tropic Thunder and that he has no regrets. Check out Stiller’s tweet below:

Although the movie was mostly positively received, Robert Downey Jr.’s blackface performance and the movie’s depiction of the mentally handicapped did generate some controversy at the time of release. Many of these controversies were ultimately lessened by the fact that the movie largely pokes fun at the actors who engage in these types of extreme performances.

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Tropic Thunder Probably Wouldn’t Get Made Today

Ben Stiller and the cast of Tropic Thunder in a helicopter.

Tropic Thunder, on a whole, is mostly making fun of the Hollywood system that rewards actors for extreme antics. Downey Jr.’s Kirk Lazarus, for example, is a Method actor who undergoes a skin pigmentation procedure to play an African American character. Downey Jr. defended his Tropic Thunder blackface back in 2020, expressing that the role is designed to show how wrong the practice is. Regardless, however, it’s still unlikely the movie would be made today.

Blackface is, for very obvious reasons, something that will continue to be controversial no matter the circumstances or intention. Although Tropic Thunder is not condoning blackface and the character who engages in the practice is depicted as an out-of-touch buffoon, it seems like an issue that a studio executive would largely want to avoid today. Even if the movie’s depiction of blackface and the inclusion of Simple Jack, a mentally handicapped individual, were omitted, however, Tropic Thunder still wouldn’t get made today, because of larger changes in Hollywood.

The comedy landscape has evolved a lot since 2008, with comedies now largely relegated to streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, and HBO Max. Tropic Thunder cost $92 million to make, a large sum by any metric, but especially for a comedy. While the impressive talent involved would undoubtedly still be a major draw, the movie’s large price tag and genre would probably just make it a hard sell.

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Source: Ben Stiller

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