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Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder

Date: Nov 12 2008

Themes: History

Grammar: Be Able To


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

Some actors will do almost anything to create realistic characters. Demi Moore went to a real-life boot camp to prepare for her role as a soldier in the movie G.I. Jane. To portray a Holocaust survivor in The Pianist, Adrien Brody spent weeks starving himself. And in the new comedy Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr. plays an actor who will do anything for a part, even change the color of his skin!

Tropic Thunder is about pampered actors who get lost in the jungle while making a movie about the Vietnam War and have to fight their way out. The movie makes fun of how seriously some people in Hollywood take themselves. Listen to Mason tell Marni about it.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Marni:  So, I’m a little behind the times but I finally went and saw >Iron Man.

Mason:  Oh my God, you are behind the times!

Marni:  I know, but I love a good Robert Downey Jr. film and, like, what else is there?

Mason:  Well, let me tell you this. Get thee to the cinema to see Tropic Thunder.

Marni:  That’s right, because of the…

Mason:  Yeah, you probably didn’t even recognize him…

Marni:  Exactly.

Mason:  With the blackface.

Marni:  The blackface!

Mason:  They’re bringing it back. They’re bringing it back. It’s the turn of the century all over again.

Marni:  So is it like a social taboo to even say that?

Mason:  I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t think they really reference it in the film, to be specific. But, uh, you know, he’s certainly… He’s doing all the affectations. He’s owning the character. But it’s so satirical. It’s so comedic. And they do actually have, you know, a black character in the cast. And they kind of call that out, you know, him calling him on it. It’s like, “Man, they hired a white guy to do the best black role in the film!” So, you know, I think that they were able to address all sides of the issue.

Marni:  Okay, well, then, God…I mean, and how’s the, you know, the actual story itself?

Mason:  Oh, it’s hilarious.

Marni:  It is hilarious? Okay.

Mason:  I mean, it’s, uh, it’s really meta-something…I don’t even know. I want to make up a new word for it. It’s one of those stories that turns in on itself. And, uh, it’s a lot more intellectual than you would think.

Marni:  Okay, because sometimes with the Ben Stiller comedies and, you know, like, it’s just this rehashed...I don’t know.


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Marni didn’t realize that one of her favorite actors, Robert Downey Jr., was in Tropic Thunder because he wears blackface in the movie.

White performers used to use blackface to portray black people in a stereotypical, racist way. So Marni is surprised that blackface is used in Tropic Thunder. But Mason explains that the movie is a satire. It makes fun of people in Hollywood who take themselves too seriously. So it isn’t actually a racist movie.

Do you think Hollywood takes itself too seriously? How far should actors go to create characters that seem real? Do you think some actors are pampered?



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mark it,learn this lesson later.^^

05:42 AM Nov 12 2008 |




This seems a classic comedy!! HAHA~~ I really wanna go watch it!!!

03:42 AM Nov 12 2008 |

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