Wednesday, April 11, 2012
FINALS: DR. STRANGELOVE (1) vs. TROPIC THUNDER (13)
FIRST HALF: SIGNIFICANCE
“Dr. Strangelove” is ranked #3 on AFIs list of 100 Greatest Comedies. It is one of the most famous comedies of the 1960s. It has characters, performances, and lines that are considered among the best of all time. The image of Kong riding the nuke like a bronco is iconic. It is a satire which makes it more important than an average comedy. It’s theme of the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction was very topical for the Cold War. When it came out, just two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, it certainly struck a chord.
“Tropic Thunder” is too recent to have established a place among the great war comedies and it is unclear what mark it will leave. Given the nature of critics, it is doubtful it will make the next AFI 100 Funniest movies. If there is any justice, it will get some credit for being the best satire of war movies ever made. It does not have a lot of competition in that respect, of course. It also deserves recognition for bringing war comedies into the 21st Century.
First half score: Dr. Strangelove - 50 Tropic Thunder - 38
SECOND HALF: LAUGH OUT LOUDNESS
“Dr. Strangelove” is not really a laugh out loud movie. I counted less than ten times that I chuckled. It is more interested in jabbing you in the ribs than having you slap your thigh.
If you are open to crass comedy, “Tropic Thunder” can be hilarious. I counted 52 times that I laughed out loud. I guess that shows my sense of humor. The interesting thing is the humor is consistent throughout and is varied. There is satire, silly, slapstick, and sophomoric humor. Something for every “Maxim” reader – not so much for females.
Second half score: Dr. Strangelove - 34 Tropic Thunder - 48
When I started this tournament, I had no idea how it would turn out. I watched all 16 movies in a three week stretch. I had seen all of them before, but some I had not seen in decades. I discovered that the critics (as represented by Rotten Tomatoes) can be very wrong when it comes to war comedies, but for the most part the seeding was pretty accurate. I do have to point out that a #13 seed made it to the finals.
The key thing I discovered is that the older the movie, the less likely it would be found to be funny today. It is a real testament to the greatness of “Dr. Strangelove” that it made it to the finals and lived up to its #1 seed. What is also stunning is that although the Cold War is over and the threat of nuclear war is no longer a daily nightmare, the humor stands up. Of course, it helps if you are old enough to remember the things that are being satired. I doubt that many under age 30 would really enjoy it.
“Tropic Thunder” ended up winning because it not only is very funny, but it effectively pokes fun at other war movies. It also takes on movie production and actors in general. It has action and explosions. What more could you ask for?
TROPIC THUNDER - 86
DR. STRANGELOVE - 84