Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Iron Man 2 Full of Weird Cameos, But It’s Robert Downey Jr.’s Movie


“Iron Man 2” hits theatres on Friday and it’s chock full of strange cameo appearances.

Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison gets to say a line and some face time. It also looks like he may have put quite a bit of money into “Iron Man 2.” Oracle is the most prominent advertiser on screen. Its logo turns up constantly. It’s worse than when Starbucks plastered its name all over one of the “Austin Powers” movies years ago. Yikes!

There are also appearances by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. Your heart kind of sinks when you the the former, a supposedly “serious” journalist. O’Reilly is just there as a punch line.

Of course, Marvel’s Stan Lee shows up. But the saddest cameo is from DJ Adam Goldstein, who subsequently killed himself with drugs. He looks bright and happy in the film.

All that aside, “Iron Man 2,” again directed by Jon Favreau, is a lot of big studio noisy fun. It’s going to make a mint, too, when it arrives on Friday. Early word was that it wasn’t as good as the first “Iron Man.” But guess what? It’s just fine, a solid A minus I think, with a witty script from Justin Theroux. The first “Iron Man” was a novelty, and Robert Downey Jr was a surprise as Tony Stark. Now we’re used to it. But that doesn’t mean anything negative.

In fact, Favreau, Theroux and Downey have really pulled it together. Gwyneth Paltrow is back and her role is larger this time as Tony Stark’s pining love interest and assistant. Plus, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, and without a doubt Sam Rockwell are all excellent additions to the group this time around. Rockwell just about steals the movie, and he gets to dance–he’s a great improvisational dancer–on top of it. Don Cheadle also joins the cast, replacing Terrence Howard, and doing a fine job.

But “Iron Man 2” is all about Robert Downey Jr. Tony Stark has a line early in the script about life, death and redemption that really sums up Downey’s life and career. After all his personal disasters, who could have guessed that he’d triumph in the end. And he’s a pleasure all the way through. Considering the abundance of plot points and characters this time around, it’s a tribute to Downey that he keeps it all straight, and leads this crazy Chapter 2 with authority, wit and grace.

So now what? The whole movie is a set up for Chapter 3, as well as “Thor” and “Avengers” movies. You almost can’t wait to see Jackson and Johansson in “The Avengers.” When I saw Scarlett over the weekend, I said, “So now you’re a super hero.” She replied, without flinching, “I was always a super hero.” It does seem like that, seeing her in “Iron Man 2.” Quentin Tarantino‘s going to be calling her for “Kill Bill Part 3” when he sees her here!

Get ready for box office alerts all weekend. “Iron Man 2” is going to set records.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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