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What 'Tropic Thunder' Thinks Is Funny

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By Timothy Shriver
Monday, August 11, 2008

I've been told to keep my sense of humor about the film "Tropic Thunder," which opens this week. Despite my requests, I have not been given the chance to see the movie. But I've seen previews, read about it and read excerpts of the script. By all accounts, it is an unchecked assault on the humanity of people with intellectual disabilities -- an affront to dignity, hope and respect.

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Consider this exchange:

Ben Stiller's character: "There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded."

Robert Downey Jr.'s character: "Oh yeah. Damn."

Stiller: "In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb."

Downey: "To be a moron."

Stiller: "Yeah."

At another point, about acting like a person with intellectual disabilities, they say:

Stiller: "It's what we do, right?"

Downey: "Everybody knows you never do a full retard."

Stiller: "What do you mean?"

Downey: "Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic, sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard."


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