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Touchstone Home Video presents
Good Morning Vietnam (SE) (1988)

"You know you're very beautiful. You're also very quiet. And I'm not used to girls being that quiet unless they're medicated."
- A2C Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: January 10, 2006

Stars: Robin Williams
Other Stars: Forest Whitaker, J.T. Walsh, Bruno Kirby, Noble Willingham, Chintara Sukapatana, Tung Thanh Tran
Director: Barry Levinson

MPAA Rating: R for (adult language, violence)
Run Time: 02h:00m:44s
Release Date: January 10, 2006
UPC: 786936239928
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+B+B B+

DVD Review

Good Will Hunting be damned, Robin Williams has never given a better performance than the one he delivers in Good Morning Vietnam. He deserved the Oscar for that role, of course, but I believe he's just never brought such a complete performance to a film before, and, given his recent track record (in comedies, at least) for family-friendly fare, he probably never will again.

Good Morning Vietnam was released to theaters in 1987, a time when movies about the war in Vietnam were common. Director after director rode the success of Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, but Barry Levinson's Good Morning Vietnam stood apart. Nearly 20 years later, Levinson's picture stands the test of time very well, and still has very poignant things to say in our post-9/11 war-torn culture.

Adrian Cronauer (Williams) doesn't just avoid playing by the rules, he hasn't even bothered to read them. This radio DJ is an airman, transferred from Crete to the jungles of Vietnam during the worst of times. While his superiors, Sgt. Philip "Dick" Dickerson (J.T. Walsh) and 2nd Lt. Steven Hauk (Bruno Kirby) expect a conforming disc jockey who plays safe, "easy listening" tunes, what they get is a man who is a wizard at pop-culture impersonations with a thing for rock-and-roll music. It doesn't take long for Dickerson and Hauk to despise Cronauer, and they will try anything to get him off the air, despite the troops and Brigadier General Taylor's (Noble Willingham) love for the inspiring DJ.

Cronauer is a positive, hyper personality, but he soon learns the horrors of the Vietnam War. These horrors come to be personal as he becomes affectionate with a Vietnamese girl named Trinh (Chintara Sukapatana). He also grows close to her brother, Tuan (Tung Thanh Tran), in order to form a stronger relationship with Trinh, and when the war hits close to his new "family," Adrian is devastated and realizes just how important his DJ role is to the troops, as well as to his own soul.

I think Williams is currently doing the right thing with his career, as far as his edgy work in films like One Hour Photo and The Final Cut. If he does eventually decide to go back to his comedic roots and make an all-out laugh fest again, here's hoping it's as witty and intelligent as this one. His ability to transform Adrian Cronauer from a naïve, funny-at-all-costs individual to a caring man who is deeply moved by his war experiences is pretty amazing. Williams never forgets how to be funny, even during the tough points in the story. He doesn't take these moments lightly, but he still manages to keep the core of Adrian Cronauer intact, despite the horrors he witnesses.

Williams has the benefit of an excellent supporting cast. The late J.T. Walsh is at his best as the evil Sgt. Dickerson, and Bruno Kirby has his weasely "yes man" down as Hauk. The real standout here is the excellent Forest Whitaker as Cronauer's "guide," Private Edward Montesque Garlick. Whitaker has only been better in The Crying Game, as he is a perfect straight man for Williams, but this is Williams' show throughout.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: After years of toiling with the nonanamorphic transfer from the 1998 DVD, this new edition offers a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Well, it was worth the wait, because this transfer has much more going for it than simply the anamorphic distinction. A higher bit rate results in much crisper, detailed images, with solid blacks and contrast levels. There's a slight softness during a couple of scenes, but grain and dirt are kept to a minimum, which couldn't be said for the previous version.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: This time both the English and French audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1, and both benefit from a surprisingly wide dynamic range that really opens up the surrounds, albeit sparingly. The soundtrack is vibrant, thanks in part to nice bass presence, and the hilarious dialogue is always crystal clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Annapolis, Shopgirl, Flightplan, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Chicken Little, TV on DVD, Cars
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This outing goes a long way to make us forget the bare-bones original release, mainly thanks to a 34-minute production diary. Producer Larry Brezner, director Barry Levinson, Bruno Kirby, and the real-life Adrian Cronauer (on whom Robin Williams' character is based) all participate. There's also some on-set footage, and it's always great to hear a cast and crew reflect on a film they made many years ago.

The original theatrical trailer and teaser for Good Morning Vietnam are also available, as are 13 minutes of raw Williams monologues, introduced by Levinson, followed by Williams doing his radio bits without interruption. Good luck staying in your seat for this footage (especially the bit about the first Puerto Rican National Hockey League player, Jesus LaFleur).

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The hilarious and heartfelt Good Morning Vietnam is finally given its due on DVD thanks to Touchstone Home Video's new special edition release. We finally have an anamorphic transfer of the film, and there are some very nice extras as well. If you've missed this film after all of these years, this release is the perfect excuse to right that wrong.

 


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