Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran
Director: Barry Levinson
Running Time: 121 mins
Good Morning, Vietnam is an American film about a zany army radio DJ who is assigned to move to the US Armed Services Radio station in Saigon, however his unorthodox sense of humour soon gets him into trouble with some of the more serious officers at the station.
Well, this is a film full of contrasts. It’s a really funny satire, with one of the most insanely hilarious performances of all time by no-one other than Robin Williams, and yet it’s also quite a hard-hitting drama with a very strong anti-war message and a lot of very heavy images that show that this isn’t all about jokes.
However, I’m going to start with the comedic side to it all, because I think that’s what sets this apart from so many other satirical anti-war films in the past, as it’s just so different, and the reason for that is that there are two very distinct, but effective sides to the humour here.
Firstly, there’s all the mad, farcical and absolutely hilarious jokey stuff. The most evident part of that is the brilliant performance by Robin Williams, where he’s at his most insane, which you can see in such classic lines as his ‘GOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!’ as well as a whole host of other antics that gets into all sorts of hilarious trouble during his time in Saigon.
The other type of comedy is the satire. This is where it all starts to get a little more serious, but the satirical part of the film is what keeps it both funny and intelligent at the same time, poking fun at humourless army generals, the whole philosophy of the US armed forces, and the Vietnam War itself.
Now, onto the heavier, properly more serious part of the film. Firstly, you do get a lot of graphic images of the effects of the US army in South Vietnam on the local people more than anything, and it’s things like that that appear consistently throughout the film that are really powerful and tough to watch.
The underlying message of all of the drama in this film is a strongly anti-war one. It shows the effects of war in general on local people and the soldiers involved in some of the most hard-hitting ways I’ve seen in a long time, not just using cold hard images to put its message across, but also using emotional connections with characters and an absolutely stunning but harrowing montage of war set to Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’.
Overall, this gets a 7.7, because it’s a fantastically funny film that has a perfect balance with hard-hitting drama and a powerful message, that makes it particularly unique amongst many of the other anti-war films made around this time.