By Stephanie Breijo
From stoners in need of a witness protection service to panda-killing action spoofs, two weeks of August redefined the meaning of summer blockbusters with all the gusto of both Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder’s C-4 and machine gun fire combined.
While the first half of the season saw Downey, Jr. clean and pompous as ever in Iron Man and Ledger, Bale and Eckhart bloodying the already grime-laden streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight, it looked as though summer’s films would all be superhero heavy.
Luckily, comedic divinity ruled that this season’s blockbusters were not all as dark and brooding, reaching only the hue of Downey, Jr.’s surgically tinted skin.
Tropic Thunder, under Ben Stiller’s direction and writing skill, is still raking in profit as one of the highest-grossing spoofs of all time, as offensive as it is successful. Robert Downey, Jr. plays an Australian method actor who undergoes a controversial skin procedure to play an African-American while Ben Stiller leads the group as an action star trying to save his career.
As if the black humor (no pun intended) could reach no lower depth, Jack Black plays a drug addicted comedian going through withdrawals in the jungle as the team “acts” (read: miraculously survives) in Vietnam amidst a tiny drug dealer and conniving, trigger happy film executives.
The film, though offensive, is still tasteful. Its racial issues and blatant commentary on Hollywood offset its pungent, did-they-just-go-there humor, while adding in the hilarity of an all-star cast. Plus, Tom Cruise gets his groove on in a fat suit.
But Pineapple Express, Judd Apatow’s stoner saga, topped Stiller’s high-budget spoof, raking in over $62,932,000 thus far.
Starring Seth Rogen as a weed-smoking process server and James Franco hilariously cast as his dealer, the film combines action with stoner merriment when Rogen witnesses a murder, which leads to conspiracy, which of course, leads to being hunted by a murderer and a cop, all while trying to make it to dinner with his teenage girlfriend’s family.
The real surprise of the summer was not Apatow or Stiller’s brilliance. It wasn’t the blatant jeering at the government and cultural institutions. It was the so-low humor in which pandas, Slurpees and any humility that Tom Cruise may have ever possessed had to die to bring us films that stood up to cinematic milestones and fantastic final performances. In short, it is that guns and weed are as powerful as Bruce Wayne’s prestige.