Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Good Morning, Vietnam
Directed by Barry Levinson
Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Bruno Kirby, Tung Thanh Tran
Grade: D+

I suppose the souring reputation of this one-time Oscar nominee comes from its failure to commit to a particular stance on the (also) souring debacle that was the Vietnam War. It’s not so much that the film sanitises the event but rather that the story of Robin Williams’ outspoken disc jockey is an ineffective window into this period of history, playing out rather like Lenny Bruce Does Asia, with Bruno Kirby’s stuffy Lieutenant the counterpart purveyor of conservative taste. Mitch Markowitz’s script tries to forge an even reflection between comedy and drama by heightening the seriousness in the second half, and it all gets terribly messy when an escalating subplot involving the funny-man’s local friends pushes the character into unbearable degrees of self-righteousness. Williams, either hysterically funny or hysterically frustrated, rides along with the flaws of the film, adept at giving an impression of Oz’s Good Witch of the North, but less successful at providing his character’s growing political conscience with any logical credence.

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