JUST ANOTHER GAL FROM CASPER: WHAT I’M (RE)WATCHING RIGHT NOW EDITION…
(This is an updated version of my thoughts on this fantastic movie.)
“Good Morning, Vietnam,” released in 1987, is a flick I dig for all sorts of reasons, the main one being a brilliant performance by the legendary Robin Williams. Williams plays airman and radio personality Adrian Cronauer. (Cronauer is based on an actual serviceman/DJ, but most of the movie — and character/s — are fiction.)
When Cronauer hits the airwaves, he delivers the U.S. troops in Vietnam more entertainment than his military superiors bargain for. Robin Williams ad-libbed most, if not all, of his on-air bits, so if you’re a fan of his hyper-verbal comedy, that alone is a great reason to watch this show.
Cronauer also falls for a Vietnamese girl — despite the clash of American vs. Vietnamese cultures. His clever way of getting close to Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana) — teaching English — kinda fizzles, but he really enjoys teaching the class, befriending Trinh’s brother, Tuan (Tom.T.Tran,) and his adult Vietnamese students…
English Class (Cursing Class) – NSFW (or young kids)
Cronauer’s job, on the other hand, is on shaky ground from the start. Lt. Steven Houk (Bruno Kirby) wants him to play Percy Faith and Lawrence Welk (and maybe a polka or two), not James Brown and other “radical” selections he’s fond of spinning. And Sgt. Major Dickerson (J.T. Walsh) resents his popularity among the troops, not to mention his lack of military decorum…
(Watching at work? Maybe keep the volume low…)
There are a few other standout performances, too. Forest Whitaker as Private Edward Garlick, Cronauer’s aide and friend. He’s a good-natured, “by-the-book” fella who admires Cronauer’s style. Though Cronauer’s rule-bending stresses him out at times, he eventually learns to embrace the relaxed approach. Noble Willingham’s General Taylor is the laid-back man in charge. He loves Cronauer’s humor and what his show does for the troops’ morale. And while Robin Williams is definitely the star, the entire cast is solid.
“Good Morning, Vietnam” draws comparisons to “M*A*S*H,” and there are definitely similarities. Much like “M*A*S*H,” it’s silly fun one minute, serious the next. My favorite movie moment is an unexpected transition — after being lulled into a false sense of comedy, we’re reminded that war is more than a backdrop for silliness and romance. (No spoiler scenes for this one!)
Robin Williams brings the funny — no surprise there — but he also nails the drama. Watching “Good Morning, Vietnam” has become a bittersweet experience; realizing we lost this performing genius too soon is always gonna sting.
If you wanna watch a dramedy war flick (look at that — something for everyone!), stream “Good Morning, Vietnam” on whatever platform’s currently offering it, or order a copy on DVD/Blu-ray through places like Amazon or downtown’s Sonic Rainbow.