Robin Williams was finally given a showcase for his extraordinary improvisational skills in this, the first comedy set in Vietnam.
Based on the story of real-life Armed Forces Radio disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM begins in 1965, as Cronauer (Williams) arrives in Saigon, imported because his comedic broadcasts have proven a huge morale-booster elsewhere. At the AFR's Saigon station, Cronauer incurs the
wrath of superiors who resent his intrusion in their programming, with its dull announcers, health and safety tips, censored news, and geriatric playlist. Cronauer changes all that, knocking listening troops out of their stupor with his howling salutation--"Gooood morning, Vietnammmm!"--hip song
selection, and comedic improvisation, poking wild fun at any and all sacred cows.
GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM stumbles whenever Williams isn't behind the mike, placing him in melodramatic, hackneyed situations that become increasingly predictable and preposterous, and director Barry Levinson's seemingly endless reaction shots of listeners grooving to the DJ's antics become
irritating. Levinson manages, however, to be one of the few filmmakers to show the Vietnamese as complex, cultured people, rather than as helpless victims or the faceless enemy.
Forrest Whitaker (BIRD) does wonders with his thankless role as Cronauer's loyal aide, Sukapatana--as Williams's Vietnamese love interest--is impressive, and Bruno Kirby, as Cronauer's nemesis, comes as close as any actor could to walking off with a film dominated by Williams at his best.
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