Before the release of Tropic Thunder, there was a largely viral trailer for Rain of Madness, a companion mockumentary. I suppose the intention was that it would be to Tropic Thunder what Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse was to Apocalypse Now. Since the movie was more or less mocking big war movies like Apocalypse Now, it made sense. However, I assumed (incorrectly) that should Rain of Madness ever see the light of day, it would be as a DVD/Blu-Ray (I guess I have to start mentioning both formats now). Not only is that not the case, but it’s also a free download on iTunes.
Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t get me as excited as it did. But truth be told, Rain of Madness is better than the movie it’s derived from. My key complaint with Tropic Thunder was largely with how off-putting the celebrity cameos were. It weakened the satire and took me out of the movie (only to bring me back in with some legitimately great scenes). Rain of Madness emphasizes the stuff I liked (albeit in a different way), and effectively reinforces the satire. The mockumentary is, unlike the film, also played completely straight. It’s very, very dry. Not surprisingly, it was actor Steve Coogan, and not Ben Stiller, who was the creative force behind it.
As disappointing as Tropic Thunder was, Rain of Madness takes away some of the sting. It’s vastly different in tone and presentation, but it’s funny and engrossing. It also manages to satirize self-important documentary filmmakers and skewer further method actors and oscar-baiters, to the point of absolute absurdity (which was what I was really hoping for in the real movie), with Robert Downey jr. losing his shit in a hotel room, and more scenes from Simple Jack.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s worth the price. The eventual video release of Tropic Thunder should see it packaged with the DVD, and I think knowing that will make it easier for me to recommend , but until then, it is on iTunes, and it’s fantastic. It takes some jokes too far, but given the context, that’s not a huge problem.