Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Movie about a middle aged single guy who travels from Crete to another foreign country, presents a radio show (using humour), falls into simultaneously teaching English as a foreign language (using humour), and consequently finds himself making a lot of friends in a very alien culture.

Oh, and then, at the end, he leaves and goes home again.

Hmm, given this common ground with my own recent bio, it seems like this really should have been my kind of a film. It's even broken up throughout with short home movies of the area/era.

And you know what? I did enjoy this noisy, unassuming, travelogue of another country. Whatever I might make of Robin Williams' career since, in this one they strike the balance between his manic shotgun comedy, and abject disillusionment at man's inhumanity to man perfectly. I mean sure, the usual straw villains are wheeled out at the start just to stop it all going too smoothly for him, but they're never any danger to him, not really.

What emerges then is a really engaging journey to another place, time and political situation, and all with the slightly chilling safety net of knowing that our man is not in much peril really. Throughout Adrian Cronauer observes what he finds going on around him, but rarely does it threaten him.

My own life's parallels with his journey did enable me to connect with the character, although this irritatingly also illuminated some of the production's shortcomings, simply due to my familiarity with some of the elements. For example, I knew that you simply cannot teach English as a second language by babbling as quickly as this guy did. You gotta slow everything right down, which rendered these scenes unbelievable for me. At another moment, if I heard correctly, a character claimed to have received 90 phone calls from listeners that morning, which my years of working in a callcentre told me was highly unlikely, unless they were all very very quick calls indeed. Well, maybe all those soldiers were particularly efficient with their use of words.

I was disappointed at the meanness with which villain Steven Hauk was belittled by all for not being funny on air, when he himself clearly thought he was. Comedy is a subjective thing, and a risky one, so I really couldn't get behind that attitude.

Ultimately though, I got no bad things to say about this one. Good Morning, Vietnam is a straightforward believable story taking place against a backdrop that seems similarly real. When these people laughed, I found myself laughing along with them, for the same reasons. I'm really not sure what else a movie is supposed to offer.

Despite what I'd heard though, there wasn't much improvisation here that I could spot - Williams' non-stop barrage of gags is just so well honed.

(available here)


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