While I have not seen the film FUR with Nicole Kidman, it is incredibly safe these day s to claim that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most charismatic and intriguing performers currently working in mainstream Hollywood. Over the last two weeks I have seen the man in three recent features, and I think it is safe to say that without him these movies would not have been half as exciting or amusing. In Iron Man, his Tony Stark is an interesting change from the hero who gets all dark and brooding once he decides to take some responsibility. Instead Stark is just as much of an arrogant sarcastic fellow as he was before he switched to the good guy side.
See also Charlie Bartlett, a pretty rubbish coming of age indie film that would have been slightly obnoxious if not for Downey’s drunk and depressed foil to the title character. Kind of funny, but more bittersweet, he steals the show with his blank and sunken stare. Now Downey has been getting a lot of press for his brave portrayals of characters with demons/addictions just because he’s had a few of his own, so one may be inclined to worry about him being typecast as this kind of character, but let’s face it, this is when he’s at his best lately.
In Tropic Thunder Downey plays a bad boy Russell Crowe type actor so into his craft that he dyes his skin darker in order to play an African American soldier in a Vietnam film, and then stays stuck in character even when cameras aren’t rolling. While the film does deliver a satirical look at Hollywood, it is mostly successful as a silly comedy. After describing his character it seems odd to call him the straight man in the film, but with Ben Stiller and Jack Black involved as well, somebody had to take it down a notch. And so we get a quieter and less invasive performance than his co stars, that still evokes gut busting laughs. Adopting a deep southern accent and talking about cooking up crayfish had me in the aisles. I won’t say any more but it’s a must see this summer.