When I was a child the Robin Williams films that I was most familiar with were Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Aladdin and Flubber. But now that I’m a little bit older, I have found myself venturing towards his more adult films.
After his tragic death in August, there was a lot of praise for not only his comedy acting but for his ability to take on more serious roles such as ones in Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting.
Now while Good Morning Vietnam isn’t as serious as either of those films, it still shows how good Williams was as an actor and not just as comedian.
Set in Saigon in 1965, the film follows Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) as he hosts an early morning radio show for the army. While the G.I.s enjoy his brand of humour, those at the top are less enthusiastic.
From the very beginning it is Williams who stands out in the cast, with his trademark and quick thinking humour that can be difficult to keep up with at times. This means that you do tend to get the feeling that it is all about Robin Williams rather than any real solid plot.
The idea is very simple: the radio station before Cronauer is boring and dull but as soon as he arrives makes a real impact. It has been well documented that Williams improvised those moments where he is doing the radio show are improvised and it is clear that he was both talented and enthusiastic about doing it.
But it is also the way in which his character interacts with other characters such as Forest Whitaker as Eddie Garlick in which a lovely friendship emerges is lovely to watch and the way in which he winds up characters such as Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson just made me laugh throughout.
Looking at other factors of the film, the soundtrack is simply one of the best that I have heard in a film ever. The music is used to great effect particularly in the scenes where some violence is shown and Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ is playing in the background a very good contrast between what you are seeing and what you are hearing. While featuring songs by tthe likes of James Brown and The Beach Boys really helps to capture the vibe of the era in which the film is set in.
As the film progresses to a more serious and sombre side (the bomb at the restaurant was completely unexpected) and Cronauer discovers a character isn’t who he thought they were, there is a brilliant gradual build up of tension that works extremely effectively and keeps the audience gripped to the very end.
Yet the ending itself still manages to bring a smile to your face and is a nice conclusion to a film that is really quite bittersweet to watch when you look back at the film as a whole.
So did I enjoy it? Well I’m pleased to finally get a chance to see it but I’m not sure that it is destined to be a favourite of mine purely because I felt it was lacking in direction until the final thirty minutes, leaving it a bit late for anything to make a really big impact.