Stiller, Downey Jr fail to amuse Spe­cial Olympics

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

Ev­ery­one ex­pected a few African-Amer­i­can pres­sure groups to take of­fence at the up­com­ing Tropic Thun­der, in which Robert Downey Jr plays a movie star who has his face sur­gi­cally altered to play a black char­ac­ter. But in fact, dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions have raised the big­gest stink. In the film, Ben Stiller turns up as a star who has had a big hit play­ing some­one with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties in a cheesy movie that looks a lit­tle like For­rest Gump.

Ti­mothy Shriver, chair­man of the Spe­cial Olympics, was not chortling. When asked by the New York Times whether he thought a boy­cott was on the cards, he replied: “Not only might it hap­pen, it will hap­pen.” Pro­tes­tors are ou­traged at the pro­mis­cu­ous use of the word “re­tard”. (De­spite the US be­ing the home of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, that term seems be more ac­cept­able there than here.)

“It’s sort of edgy ter­ri­tory,” says Stiller, who also di­rected the film. “But we felt that, as long as the fo­cus was on the ac­tors who were try­ing to do some­thing to be taken se­ri­ously that’s go­ing too far or wrong, that was where the hu­mour would come from.”

One can un­der­stand groups wish­ing to ex­press their fury at per­ceived slights, but it is worth not­ing how sin­gu­larly in­ef­fec­tive such protests can be. Three­and-a-half decades ago, the Ital­ian-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity got its knick­ers in a twist about The God­fa­ther. Francis Ford Cop­pola’s film didn’t do badly at the box-of­fice. More re­cently, Jewish groups took of­fence at por­tray­als of their re­li­gion in The Pas­sion of the Christ. That film be­came the most suc­cess­ful R-rated movie of all time.

Now we find Reel News of­fer­ing more free pub­lic­ity for Tropic Thun­der. Ex­pect the movie to be a smash when it opens here in Septem­ber.

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