Les Grossman Steals the Show

Since 2005, Tom Cruise has desperately needed to redeem his public image and he might have just done so at this year’s MTV Movie Awards. Decked out as Les Grossman, the grossly hairy and foul-mouthed movie executive from Tropic Thunder, Cruise has been making appearances in promos and the opening sequence. And then Grossman danced with J.Lo to her song “Get Right”. It was epic.

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From Ed Helms dressed as Lady Gaga to Ken Jeong’s leopard print leotard (if you can even call it), this segment stole the show. Grossman has officially become a larger-than-the-movie character who will no doubt make another appearance before the joke runs its course. Especially since it has given Cruise’s career a jolt. Except for Sandra Bullock receiving the Generation Award, this was the best moment of a show overrun by the F-bomb and Twihards.

Hey, It’s… Gladys Knight and the Pips?

This video of “Midnight Train to Georgia” (one of my favorite songs) is from last night’s American Idol finale. Probably the best promotion for a summer movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s hilarious.

Preview: Tropic Thunder

It is always strange for me when what I’m learning in my film classes manifests itself in some way in current films and pop culture. Today after my Race, Ethnicity and the Hollywood Musicial and a discussion about the use and meanings of blackface, I went to Entertainment Weekly online and read this preview of Ben Stiller’s latest directorial effort, Tropic Thunder (opening August 15).

The film, directed and co-written by Stiller and starring Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr., is an epic comedy about the production of a Vietnam Era film.

Downey, pictured in the center, plays Kirk Lazarus, an Oscar winning actor cast in the role Sgt. Osiris.

From EW.com “Problem is, Lazarus’s character, Sgt. Osiris, was originally written as black. So Lazarus decides to dye his skin and play Osiris, um, authentically. Funny? Sure. Dangerous? That’s an understatement. ”If it’s done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago,” Downey says. ”If you don’t do it right, we’re going to hell.” [..]

The question is: Can this satire not only be a box office hit but not be a read an offensive portrayal of African Americans?

Stiller says: ”I was trying to push it as far as you can within reality. ‘I had no idea how people would respond to it.” (When a rough cut of the film was screened, it scored high with African-Americans.)

And Downey says: ”At the end of the day, it’s always about how well you commit to the character. ‘I dove in with both feet. If I didn’t feel it was morally sound, or that it would be easily misinterpreted that I’m just C. Thomas Howell in [Soul Man], I would’ve stayed home.” [Source]

The bottom line: Satire, when it’s done right, can be the most effective way to make a point. Tropic Thunder is not necessarily making a statement about blackface (see Spike Lee’s Bamboozled), but it is definitely making a statement about Hollywood and those who make moveis. I’m most interested in seeing how more people, other than a sample audience, respond to Tropic Thunder.

The trailer for Tropic Thunder debuts online March 17.