Today, Robin Williams tragically passed away. He was one of the greatest comedians who ever lived and was one of the best at putting a smile on my face. His amazing body of work included his stand up work, comedies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin and Jumanji and dramas such as One Hour Photo, Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting and that’s not even all of his best work. So, in honour of such an amazing comic and versatile actor, I thought I would take a look at my favourite Robin Williams performance of all time in Good Morning Vietnam.
Good Morning Vietnam follows a radio DJ named Adrian Cronauer, played by Williams, who is brought to Vietnam by the US military to host an AM radio show for the GI’s. His show is a hit with everybody but the higher ups.
So why did I pick Good Morning Vietnam out of Robin’s fine filmography? Simply because, I think this is where he gave his best performance. Here, audiences get to see the best of both sides of Williams, a comedic and a dramatic side that blend flawlessly together into one. Not only do we see a man trying to make a bad situation better but also someone trying to find the light side of life during wartime as his stay lasts longer. Watching Williams on screen is captivating and truly proves how versatile he is as an performer.
When we see the light side of Robin Williams’ performance in this film, its exactly the same as Williams as a comedian. He uses the same techniques and the same brand of humour as his stand up. This is because Williams ad libbed every single one of his radio broadcasts. We also get to the reactions of the GIs who remind me of us, people who love Williams as a comedian and always got a smile from him and loved everything he said. The scene where they ask Williams to do an improv broadcast before they go to fight shows how powerful his brand of humour is and represents how we see him. Then again, who wouldn’t laugh at Williams using Army jargon to mock a Lieutenant? The GIs got a kick out of his routine and even if Williams just brought his usual routine into those radio broadcasts, he brought a large sense of personality and likability to Cronauer as a character and shows how influential his brand of humour is.
With Williams’ brilliant comedy, he balances it out with some fantastic dramatic acting. Robin was always a very talented actor winning an Oscar and being nominated for more, but in Good Morning Vietnam, he balances the comedy of his broadcasts and the drama of the situation he is in amazingly. As Cronauer’s stay continues, he notices the horrors of war and slowly realizes he may have to start humouring himself as well as the other soldiers to keep in the mindset he started in. Things really start to shake up after a bar Cronauer is in blows up and a young Vietnamese boy gets him out just in time. The reaction of Cronauer and how shook up he is over it is intense to watch. It’s scary watching how horrified he is of his surroundings all of a sudden, realizing how dangerous his job may be. It also brings a lot of humanity to the character and not just someone there to make people laugh. He has a heart and wants to see these troops and himself come home safe. Even though he wants to see people smile, he also wants to see them safe and that really added depth to the film.
Good Morning Vietnam was the one for me that really showed how versatile and talented Robin Williams is. We get to see him balance his stand up esque humour and some riveting drama and he pulls it off flawlessly. The humanity and personality he brought to Adrian Cronauer as a character is a rare feat that not many actors can accomplish.
Robin Williams was a fantastic man with such a talent to make people smile and even though he is no longer with us, we must remember the years of laughter and joy he brought us with not just Good Morning Vietnam but anything else he was in. If Williams brought a smile to your face, remember his legacy and let him make you smile tonight once again. A truly amazing soul who shall rest in peace, long live Robin Williams and his status as a legend.