A forces DJ is posted to Vietnam to work with their radio service. However, it isn’t long before is irreverent attitude and disregard for both guidelines and orders place him in conflict with his superiors.
A2C Cronauer (Robin Williams) meets and makes friends with Pfc Garlick (Forest Whitaker) who is sent to meet and greet the DJ. As Cronauer starts his radio show he soon falls fowl of censorship, an extensive broadcast rulebook and most in-particular – the wrath of his two main superiors. 2LT Hauk (Bruno Kirby) and SGM Dickerson (J.T. Walsh) try to convince the rogue DJ to change his approach to the shows, perhaps removing the humour, playing less Rock n’ Roll, but Cronauer has nothing to do with this.
As the DJ becomes less popular with the powers that be, he becomes equally popular with his fellow broadcasters. Even more so with the forces listening in.
But eventually, especially after he starts trying to understand the Vietnamese and environs, the senior officers decide on drastic action in order to rid themselves of what they see as a disruptive and dangerous influence.
Interesting and essentially uplifting comedy drama vehicle for Robin Williams. But that description does not do the film justice. The dramatic elements are extremely well constructed and the movie is a favourite of many a critic, oft quoted as best work by Robin Williams to that date. The setting allows the central characters, Robin Williams’ Cronauer and Forest Whitaker’s Garlick, to grow in what is a very short period.
Although the monologues to microphone are breathtaking they don’t overwhelm the movie – the sessions have been limited by the editing but you will enjoy them all the more for that.
The war is used sparingly but to good effect where necessary. There is some threat but the situations are a little engineered.
Overall though this doesn’t matter. The movie isn’t perfect but it is an enjoyable, heartwarming piece of cinema.
Things to look out for: All the monologues by Robin Williams, “I get it.“, the attack on the café, censorship, stranded in the jungle, “This is not a test. This is Rock and Roll!“, English lessons, acronyms, sarcasm in the face of authority
Cast: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Bruno Kirby, J. T. Walsh, Chintara Sukapatana, Tung Thanh Tran
Rating: war drama dressed as a comedy, highly recommended