In theory, Robert Downey, Jr. sporting black face for a film role seems like enough to have Al Sharpton back on his Imus-shit. Unless, of course, it's handled properly. Think back to 1986's Soul Man, a supposedly-comic debacle of a movie filled with foolish racial stereotypes and laugh-deficient jokes that, rightfully so, ruffled a few feathers. Rather than keep tongue firmly implanted in cheek, it went for edginess, unwisely, and mishandled itself so poorly that C. Thomas Howell's black faced character came across as more of a lynching than lampooning of race issues.

In the upcoming Tropic Thunder, though, Downey Jr. is taking that risk, and, having just seen the film in an advanced screening the other night, I'm glad to report that it's downright hilarious. It's a brilliant performance, with Iron Man himself playing an actor so dedicated to his craft that he undergoes intensive pigmentation surgery to become a Black man, since his character in a Vietnam War film is. And man, does he pull it off. Literally every punchline he spit had the audience in stitches, a capacity-filled theater including Mr. Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David (dude seems like he's 6'5” in person) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (your favorite actor's favorite actor).

Tropic Thunder, as a whole, is great times. Ridiculous yet clever characters (Jack Black as an Eddie Murphy-like comedian who regularly dons fat suits; Ben Stiller—also the movie's director/co-writer—as a has-been action star; Tom Cruise as a hairy, chunky, sleazy businessman; and newcomer Brandon T. Jackson as rapper-turned-actor Alpa Chino), loads of action, and LOL-worthy set pieces (Black tied to a tree, begging for drugs—priceless). I can't say too much, since the deep-pocketed suits at Paramount Pictures could probably have me killed for dropping too many spoilers. Come August, though, remember who recommended it first.

I'll just leave you with these nuggets: Booty Sweat energy drinks and Bust-A-Nut candy bars. You'll know what I mean in a few months.

Tropic Thunder opens Wednesday, August 13th