Good Morning Vietnam (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | August 18, 2014 | 1 Comment

With Robin William’s death still in sight (as well as Flack’s tribute post), now is the time to delve into the comic genius’ trove. I’d never seen Good Morning Vietnam before, but I certainly will see it again. Five years after Mork and Mindy, the first of his projects that really got him noticed, and only two years before Dead Poets Society, one of his popular and powerful performances, Williams began what many describe as his “golden age”. From Hook to Hamlet, Ms. Doubtfire to The Birdcage, Jumanji to Aladdin, and of course Dead Poets Society to Good Morning Vietnam, he displayed a variety of talents and the true span of his acting capabilities. In Good Morning Vietnam, he showcases it all.

The basic plot: Williams is Adrian Cronauer, a disc jockey who is sent to host a segment of AFR’s Saignon radio shows. What rivets you to the screen? William’s all-out performance. Director Barry Levinson allows him large chunks of time to improvise as a radio host would. And in those moments we see Williams overflowing with humor, constantly joking and constantly one-upping himself with a line rivaling the last.


Asides from Williams, the film is solid. Never wandering too far onto the tearjerker side, Levinson weaves a story that seems simply a comedy set during and referencing the Vietnam war. An hour in and a twist involving Cronauer being thrown into the midst of a bombing sets the film on a new path. As the films starts to get more serious and the humor less frequent, we are drawn into an equal parts-suspense-war film drama-and still comedy that manages to make everything seem okay through the lens of Robin Williams’ mouth.

Levinson does make the mistake of sometimes playing it too safe with a “villainous” Sgt. with very little making him menacing, other than the fact that he does endanger Cronauer. A romance has really nothing to it other than “she looks nice” and because much of the film’s second half revolves around it, it does become tedious. And yet, the moment you notice these flaws, Williams is back on the air, the camera displaying nothing more than a shot of Williams yelling into a microphone.

The structure of the film is very different than other comedies where there are a few stars, all equally funny. Instead, William’s easily steals the show. Yes, a young Forest Whitaker in is in the secondary role. Yes, the story is tragic and funny at the same time. And yes, all in all it’s a great film. What brings it together however, and what you’ll remember is Williams performance.


One Response to “Good Morning Vietnam (Flick’s Review)”

  1. Flack
    August 18th, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

    I agree about Williams’ performance- he’s uproariously good. The film is a relatively unsurpsring war-comedy made indelible by the DJ scenes- glorious excuses for Williams to let loose with his prodigious comedic talents. I would argue things get more sappy than you say, but a late twist makes the film undeniably moving. Great review. What Williams film will you watch next?

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