Best Movies of All Time + [war]

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM1987
R

Good Morning, Vietnam is a dramatic comedy directed by Barry Levinson that centers around an armed forces radio DJ during the Vietnam War. The film opens on the arrival of Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) upon his transfer from Greece to the conflict in Vietnam. He immediately starts his job as one of the new disc jockeys for the armed forces radio network, but his alternative approach to broadcasting, which deviates extremely from the status quo that the network had previously offered, meets immediate resistance from his superiors, Lt. Steven Hauk (Bruno Kirby) and Sgt. Major Dickerson (J.T. Walsh). However, the men stationed around the country quickly take a liking to Cronauer's broadcasts, making the decision to remove him from his seat all the more difficult for Dickerson and Hauk. Soon after his arrival, Cronauer meets and falls for a young Vietnamese woman named Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana) and befriends her brother Tuan (Tung Thanh Tran) in order to get into the family's good graces. He tries to balance his newfound friendships with the stress of his job, where he's quickly being censored from telling the troops the truth of what's really happening around Vietnam. Cronauer ultimately has to decide whether to act against his superiors' wishes or fall into step with them.

The first thing you're going to notice about this film is Robin Williams. He's one of the first people you see once the movie starts, and he's in almost every scene from that point on. I think it should be mentioned that Williams scored his first Academy Award nomination - for Best Actor - for this role (he ultimately lost to Michael Douglas for Wall Street), so even the Academy took a little bit of notice despite the comedic nature of the performance. Although I don't think it's his best performance, it definitely ranks near the top of Williams fare. When he has to draw it back and be dramatic, he does so with a fire and a power that truly resonates. And what can I say about his comedy? You should know that he ad-libs all of his radio broadcasts in the film - he's probably one of the only people who'd be as capable of doing so - and they prove to be brutally hilarious. Overall, Williams makes this film, which is good because I did have an issue with some other stuff. But more on that in a moment.

The rest of the cast fills out quite nicely, to be honest. There isn't a weak link anywhere in the film, and although there's no one else that quite reaches Williams' level of insanity, everyone plays their part as best they can. Kirby and Walsh are very good as our two main antagonists, and they easily make you want to hate them very quickly. Forest Whitaker also plays a very strong supporting role as Cronauer's best American friend, Edward Garlick. The two have a lot of over-the-top funny scenes - there's a good contrast between Cronauer's comedy and Garlick's dorkiness - but they also share some sentimental moments as well. I'd also like to give a shout out Cu Ba Nguyen, who plays openly gay bar owner Jimmy Wah. He doesn't have a huge role in the film, but whenever he's on-screen, it's almost impossible not to laugh.

I did have a tiny bit of issue with the screenplay, if only that it's a tad bit predictable. There's really only one major twist in the storyline, but I figured it out the moment they telegraphed it early in the film. It takes the rest of the film for everyone else to figure it out, and I thought that was a little bit lame. I just thought it was so blatant that it took me out of the movie for a little while. I eventually found my way back into the storyline, but for a while, I was just waiting for everyone to come to the ultimate realization I had already assumed. Aside from that, the screenplay is relatively strong. The story isn't anything brilliant, but it works well considering the brand of fare. The dialogue also works to the film's advantage, even if much of Williams' was ad-libbed on the spot. Ultimately, I look to that one little goof in predictability that keeps Good Morning, Vietnam from being a fantastic film. Fantastic films don't ever let you think outside of their immediate universe, but that little tidbit threw me out for a little while. Fortunately, it did enough to draw me back in.

I do want to make mention of the brilliant soundtrack used within the film. The orchestral score is good, but it's used rather sparingly. However, when you have a musical compilation that includes Them, The Grass Roots, The Beach Boys, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Louis Armstrong and the Supremes (and many more!), you know you're in for an auditory treat. I don't know what it is about movies about Vietnam, but they all tend to have fantastic soundtracks. Maybe it's just the time period. Yeah, that's probably it. But Good Morning, Vietnam definitely knocks that pitch outta the park.

Overall, I don't know whether Good Morning, Vietnam is really going to be a movie that'll stick with me forever. Yeah, Robin Williams is great, but I could easily forget about this movie within the coming weeks. That being said, it's definitely worth a watch if you're in the mood. Just because you might forget it in the future doesn't mean it's not going to entertain you in the present. So give it a go and see how you feel. I'd bet you'd rather enjoy it.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: B+
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