Wednesday, November 26, 2008
More is less
By Edward Copeland
When you are in a situation such as I am, restricted to watching new movies on DVD, it's always a bit of a disappointment when you find out you're not watching what people saw in theaters. I don't examine the discs that closely and since they come in a by-mail service, I don't get the DVD case pointing out extended cuts. This was the case with Tropic Thunder.
I thought the film seemed a little flabby, but I didn't realize it include extra footage edited back into the film until I listened to the commentary by Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr.
What's amazing is that the material added wasn't stuff deemed too racy or over the line but scenes that director Stiller admits slowed down the pace. Even more puzzling is they were recording the commentary for this longer cut on the same day of the shorter version's premiere.
If Stiller admits these added bits slow things down, why not just file them in a deleted scene extras? Even better: Why not do as other films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall did on its DVD and give the viewer the option of watching either the theatrical version or the extended cut. As a result, can I fairly assess Tropic Thunder the way a critic who saw it in the theater would have?
There are many funny bits and Downey is a riot (and am I not mistaken, or is that a deadon Russell Crowe he's doing when he talks in his character's real Australian accent?).
Tom Cruise's extended cameo is funny but I never for a minute forgot it was Tom Cruise.
Still, I keep going back to the fact that it should have been tighter and since I can't compare it to the way people saw it in the theater, I'll never know the answer.
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