Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Mitch Markowitz
Released: January 1988
Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker
A unique tale about the Vietnam war, seen through the eyes of an extraverted radio presenter, Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams), who has been hired as a DJ on the Armed Forces radio station in Vietnam.
Adrian: Goooooooood morning Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours. What does the “O” stand for? O my God, it’s early!
Cronauer is an outlandishly hilarious DJ who keeps the troops’ spirits up while serving in Vietnam. While most love him, Lt. Steven Hauk (Bruno Kirby) certainly doesn’t. Hauk’s dry, wooden ‘humour’ (or lack thereof) is hysterical, and he believes he can do a far better job on air. So the rivalry begins.
Lt Steven Hauk: I understand you’re pretty funny as a dee-jay and, well, comedy is kind of a hobby of mine. Well, actually, it’s a little more than just a hobby, Reader’s Digest is considering publishing two of my jokes.
Lt Steven: Yeah. And perhaps some night we could maybe get together and swap humorous stories, for fun.
Adrian: Oh, why not? Maybe play a couple of Tennessee Ernie Ford records, that’d be a hoot.
Lt Steven: That’s a joke, right?
Lt Steven: I get it.
It’s based on a real life DJ of the same name, but he explains in an interview (on the DVD extras) that the film is only loosely based on his experiences in Vietnam.
Lt. Steven Hauk: Sir, in my heart, I know I’m funny.
Robin Williams was the only possible choice to play Cronauer. His improv is unlike any other. Apparently there was too much footage to know what to do with once Williams let loose on the microphone! Imagine being the editor of Good Morning, Vietnam, I bet it was all comedy gold! His impersonations are absolutely hilarious!
Adrian as Camp Fashion Consultant: I want to tell you something. You know, this whole camouflage thing, for me, doesn’t work very well.
Adrian: Why is that?
Adrian as Camp Fashion Consultant: Because you go in the jungle, I can’t see you. You know, it’s like wearing stripes and plaid. For me, I want to do something different. You know, you go in the jungle, make a statement. If you’re going to fight, clash. You know what I mean?
Cronauer soon ventures outside of the station and into Vietnam, and that’s when we see the destruction of war. The contrast is shocking and it takes a toll on Cronauer as he can’t believe the amount of things the station isn’t reporting. The news is filtered and censored.
Adrian: RIGHT! In… in Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn’t officially happen was a bomb didn’t officially explode at 1430 hours, unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah’s cafe.
The film is a constant blend of comedy and melancholy. About making the best of a bad situation, and keeping perspective. The sadness of the Vietnam war is tangible in this film, but so is the light at the end of the tunnel, which is Cronauer.
Despite a few parts that lag, Good Morning, Vietnam is a brilliant film. I’d say it has a great script but it’s actually Williams’ improv that takes the cake. It wouldn’t be a memorable film if it wasn’t for his talent as a performer. It’s so impressive.
Jodie’s rating: 6.5/10