30 July 2006 | KUAlum26
Effective movie that is neither too funny nor too grim
I just sat through a DVD of this movie,the second(?)time I'd seen this film. The last time I could recall seeing this,it was on pay-per-view television in a hotel(the Red Lion I think it was) room,August of 1988,so my memories of this film could use a refreshing. I'm glad I got refreshed.
In 1965,Airman Adrian Cronauer(Robin Williams,in the first of his four Academy Award nominations)is brought on to do an Armed Forces Radio stint in Vietnam. Behind the microphone,Cronauer lets loose,much to the surprise and delight of many of the troops and servicemen around the area of combat. His combination of off-the-wall humor,impressions,sound gags and quick wit,mixed with his love of free-wheeling Rock music of the era,is pretty much welcomed in the area,save for a few angry sorts: a Napoleon-complexed intermediate CO named Hauk(Bruno Kirby,unrecognizable but for the voice) and a stiff-lipped,quietly vindictive middle commander named Dickerson(J.T.Walsh,so good here it would seem like this typecast him). As this is going on,Cronauer becomes smitten with a local girl(Chinatra Sukapatra,spelling?)and befriends her brother(Tung Thanh Tran),which leads the popular DJ down a road of self-discovery.
With excellent support from Forrest Whitaker(one of my favorites!he ends up sort of counter-balancing Williams' manic frenzy with nerdish normalcy as his buddy/assistant/guide),Richard Edson,Noble Winnigham,Robert Wuhl and Cu Ba Nguyen(as the oily GI bar proprietor)among others,this film,directed by Barry Levinson(whose work hasn't been this good in what feels like forever,certainly not since Avalon or Rain Man) and written by Mitch Markowitz,it is arguable one of the deftest films to create and maintain a balance between the horrors and inhumanity of war and the humor and pathos that are very much present in it. Robin Williams' fans may get much more out of this that those who aren't,but I think even many of those who don't consider themselves fanciers of his talents should be able to appreciate this. The images were powerful enough that they stuck with me some after the first time I saw GMV and after a second time I feel like can appreciate even more out of this movie.