A new Disc Jockey is shipped from Crete to Vietnam to bring humor to Armed Forces Radio. He turns the studio on its ear and becomes wildly popular with the troops but runs afoul of the middle management who think he isn't G.I. enough. While he is off the air, he tries to meet Vietnamese especially girls, and begins to have brushes with the real war that never appears on the radio. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The best--Williams behind the mic--is 11 stars, but the movie as a whole is a kind of slick formula otherwise
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
A lighthearted but deadly serious anti-war film, actually. This is of course a Robin Williams movie so that it is his schtick, brilliant and inspired, that makes it soar. The best of it, including the famous riff when he first gets on the air as the new Saigon DJ, is hilarious and breathtaking. There is a plot, sort of, as he goes through a rise and fall at the military radio station, but it's more about his shining moments behind the microphone than anything else.
The "else" in this movie is, however, most of the movie. That is, Williams has a serious role as an offbeat renegade in a chaotic world surrounded by a range of sensible and very insensible officers and colleagues. At the most extreme, when we see a Vietnamese village firebombed while Louis Armstrong sings "It's a Wonderful World," the sentiment is so cloying it makes you cry, and you're not sure why because you know it's just over the top manipulation. Likewise when Williams is caught in a traffic jam with other military vehicles and he warms up the soldiers by humanizing everyone and making them feel like they really should be back home. Which they should be, as we know in retrospect.
So the movie has another side that's kind of sentimental and simplistic, whatever its good pacifist intentions. Williams is a decent actorI'm not one of those who thinks he's brilliant outside of his funny rolesand so it holds up pretty well. But the plot line keeps the movie from really finding pathos, or comedy, or warmth, or tragedy of a dramatic kind, in the scenes outside the radio station. And I think that's what it intended.
For those who don't know, it's worth adding that the main character, Adrian Cronauer, was a real person, and still ishe's a staunch Republican (Williams was not, to be sure) and an innovator in radio in Vietnam. He also co-wrote the screenplay, I assume working on the scenes that he would know best rather than the larger saccharine plot aspects. A great story, and the real Cronauer deserves credit for inspiring it, and helping it along. He was, along with most of us, "Godsmacked" when he heard the news of Williams's death.
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