Take a mediocre season of 24 and edit it down to ninety-minutes. It would probably still be better than this.
Portraits of living people are hard enough, as Helen Mirren accomplished splendidly in The Queen, but it’s debatable whether or not Forest Whitaker had a harder time portraying the notorious Ugandan strongman Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. While the real Amin is both dead and less well known to Western audiences than the British monarch, Whitaker had to walk a fine line in playing a man who was simultaneously a butcher and a darkly comic caricature. That the actor was able to a walk off with the Best Actor Oscar, despite not playing the lead role, is testament to his success. Whitaker dominates this movie, which is fortunate. This film is exceedingly well-made, but suffers problems that are mostly a necessary result of its structure.
Oliver Stone’s Platoon remains the pinnacle of his directorial career and with good reason. Presenting the grunt’s eye view of the Vietnam War, this is definitely a movie that could only have been made by someone who had been there. Even if you disagree with Stone’s politics and find fault with his later work, it’s hard to dispute the sincerity and brutal honesty he brings to this film.
There was indeed a disc jockey named Adrian Cronauer who worked for Armed Forces Radio in Saigon during the early years of the Vietnam War. Aside from that fact, this film pretty much deviates from reality from that point forward. If it happens in Good Morning, Vietnam, you be be pretty sure that it didn’t happen to the real Cronauer. This is really the story of what would have happened if you had somehow plunked Robin Williams back in 1965 Vietnam and set him to work for the military radio network.
That’s not to say it’s a bad movie. In fact, it’s the best movie on the pure comic side of William’s filmography, specifically because the role of this DJ perfectly matches the comedian’s unbridled improvisational humor.