Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tropic Thunder Fake Trailers

Tropic Thunder Fake Trailers
Ben Stiller

Tropic Thunder is a movie about making a movie, similar to Singin’ In the Rain. Tropic Thunder is the story of actors on location making a movie about the Vietnam War. When the director is unhappy with his leading actors, he takes the advice of the film’s consultant, a Vietnam veteran, and rigs up a number of cameras in the jungle. The actors are flown via helicopter into the jungle, with no creature comforts, and are left to act out the movie. However, a local drug lord becomes convinced they are not actors but Drug Enforcement Agents. A series of comedic misadventures ensues. Dramatic irony plays a large role in the film; the audience knows a great deal more about what is happening than the characters in Tropic Thunder.

While the film is a feature, it begins with four short films. The short films are designed as a form of exposition, to alert the viewer as to the diverse cinematic backgrounds of the leading characters in the film. The short films are in the form of trailers for each of the actors most recent film. Based on the trailers, the audience of Tropic Thunder knows instantly what type of celebrity each of the main characters in the film is.

Alpa Chino is a rap star, with his own line of energy drinks. His commercial resembles a hip-hop music video, complete with female dancers in skimpy outfits. The next is a trailer for Tugg Speedman’s new film "SCORCHER 6: Global Meltdown," an action movie. The trailer mentions the previous movies in the Scorcher series, which implies that it is a long-running franchise. This trailer is followed by Jeff Portnoy’s "The Fatties: Fart 2." Based on the number of fart jokes in the trailer, it is quite apparent that it is a gross-out teen comedy.

The final trailer is for “Satan’s Alley,” which stars Kirk Lazarus, an actor who was won multiple Academy Awards. It features many medium close-ups of Kirk Lazarus and Toby McGuire. The music is highly dramatic, setting the movie apart from the others advertised in tone. The plot concerns a homosexual relationship between monks. There is a two shot which shows one of the actors playing with the others rosary beads, which acts as a form of flirting. This film has the distinction of winning the Beijing Film Festival’s Crying Monkey. This fictitious film festival and award sets up the idea that Kirk Lazarus is a serious actor, unlike the other cast members in the film within a film.

What these trailers demonstrate is that only are the types of film they advertise instantly recognizable genres, but also that the trailers themselves have a high degree of familiarity. A parody only works if the audience is familiar with the material being gently mocked. This series of short films points to the idea that trailers are their own genre, and that trailers could be considered short films

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