Good Morning Vietnam
Goooooooood morning, Vietnam! Hey, this is not a test! This is rock and roll! Time to rock it from
the Delta to the D.M.Z.!
Adrian Cronauer , fresh from the island of Crete arrives in Saigon during the middle of the Vietnam War to become the new DJ for Armed Forces Radio Saigon - AFRS. In comparison to most of the people around him, Airman Cronauer prefers not to take things too seriously. He prefers to look at the pretty Vietnamese girls.
Taking a shine to Cronauer is Pfc. Eddie Garlick (Forest Whitaker), who continues to act slightly goofy around Cronauer (such as ‘starting’ the jeep, even though the motor is clearly running). However, most of the Army brass don't feel the same way. Cronauer is introduced to Lt. Steven Hauk (Bruno Kirby) and soon afterwards to Sergeant Major Philip Dickerson (J.T. Walsh). Hauk prefers to stick very close to army guidelines, even in regard to humor, while Dickerson sees Cronauer as an annoyance he has to put up with.
When woken up early the next day by Garlick, he’s introduced to a few more personalities around the radio station – General Taylor (Noble Willingham), who is the only higher-up who appreciates Cronauer’s humor; two identical twins who act as the army censor, deleting sensitive or embarrassing news for broadcast; and the DJ who is on the air before him, slightly hyper Marty Lee Dreiwitz (Robert Wuhl). Cronauer proves how wild he can be on the air as soon as his show starts at 0600 by yelling into the microphone, “GOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!” and immediately launching into a wild show where he plays rock records and takes ‘phone calls’ from men in the field and from personalities such as Walter Cronkite and Gomer Pyle.
Outside the radio station, Cronauer finds the ‘same’ Vietnamese girl, Trinh, he spotted the day before and follows her to her English class. He bribes the teacher to leave, and he goes into a modified version of his humor for the class, teaching them the meaning of ‘slip me some skin’, for example. After class, he’s stopped by the girl’s brother, Tuan (Tom Tran), who tells him not to go after his sister. Cronauer, embarrassed that he was caught, hangs out with Tuan and eventually brings him to Jimmy Wah’s, the local G.I. bar, where he hangs out with Garlick, Dreiwitz and others from the radio station. Cronauer is able to lure two girls away from a couple of other G.I.s, who immediately use the presence of Tuan as an excuse to get into a fight with the group. After getting told off by Dickerson, Tuan allows Cronauer to meet Trinh – bringing the whole family along for their ‘date’. Things go fairly smoothly, with Cronauer continuing his broadcasts in the morning and again at 1600 hours unhindered and teaching his English class to curse in English. Even making a tape where he 'asks' embarrassing questions of then Vice President Richard Nixon and looping in edits that sound like Nixon 'answering' the questions doesn't get him in trouble (at least with General Taylor).
While sitting in a bar one day, Tuan pulls Cronauer away from the bar (using another meeting with his sister as pretence) moments before Jimmy Wah’s blows up from a bomb inside. Cronauer, shaken from the bombing and the death of two G.I.s inside the bar, goes back to do his afternoon radio broadcast, ripping out the news of the bombing from the teletype before bringing it to the censors. The censors and Dickerson block Cronauer from using the news, but he locks himself inside the studio, telling verbatim what happened at the bar before his signal is cut off by Dickerson.
Now on suspension, Cronauer gets drunk daily at a local bar. His radio broadcast, meanwhile, is taken over by Lt. Hauk. However, while Hauk thinks of himself as being on the same par as Cronauer humor-wise, his humor falls dead flat on the air (he attempts doing the same 'phone calls' bit, for example, but the voice is clearly still his, and the humor doesn't work). Hundreds of angry people call and mail the radio station demanding Cronauer to return (as Garlick puts it in a letter sent to the station, “'Lt. Hauk sucks the sweat off a dead man’s balls.' I don’t really know what that means, sir, but it seems pretty negative to me.”). Meanwhile, Cronauer tries to find some connection with Trinh, but she refuses, leaving Cronauer alone.
After General Taylor orders Cronauer back on the air, Garlick tries to convince Cronauer to come back, but he still refuses, believing Dickerson will send him to the fighting line if he screws up again. However, Cronauer is persuaded when Garlick pulls up by a platoon on their way to fight, and convinces Cronauer to do an impromptu ‘broadcast’ for the men in the trucks. (This is followed by a montage showing the violence of the Vietnam War, contrasted with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” playing in the background).
The next day, Dickerson sees a way to get rid of Cronauer by convincing him and Garlick to go to An Lac to interview some soldiers for the broadcast – knowing that the Viet Cong control the only road leading to An Lac. As Cronauer and Garlick are driving along the road, a bomb hits their jeep, and they get thrown into the jungle. When Cronauer doesn’t show up for his English class, Tuan runs to the radio station and spots Dreiwitz, who finds out where he went. Tuan then steals a car and goes off himself. After wandering for hours in the jungle, Cronauer and Garlick are saved by Tuan, who spots them (they went in a long circle, since Garlick was injured in the attack). The car doesn’t start, though, so they wind up walking to a clearing, where an army helicopter rescues them.
Back in Saigon, Dickerson finally has the means to get rid of Cronauer – Tuan is actually Phan Duc To, a VC terrorist the army is looking for. Tuan had planted the bomb at Jimmy Wah's, pulling Cronauer out only moments before it was set to blow up. Dickerson informs Cronauer that the army is looking for him - with the intention of killing him. Enraged at being betrayed, Cronauer leaves the station, but not before hurling an insult in Dickerson's direction that infuriates him. Meanwhile, General Taylor tells Dickerson that he’s transferring Dickerson to Guam, away from the 'action', explaining: "Dick, I've covered for you a lot of times cause I thought you were a little crazy. But you're not crazy, you're mean. And this is just radio." Cronauer then finds Trinh and convinces her to take him to Tuan. Cronauer calls out his real name, and a chase ensues, where Cronauer eventually loses sight of Tuan. The two eventually talk, where Tuan accuses the U.S. Army of being the enemy, having killed most of his family. Tuan eventually runs off, disappearing again.
The next day, Cronauer prepares for his trip back home, and hands Garlick a tape reel to play when he’s gone. Before he goes, though, he starts an impromptu softball game with his ‘students’, and gets a goodbye from Trinh, who thanks Cronauer for warning her about the danger her brother was in. As Cronauer’s plane leaves Vietnam, Garlick – now the DJ in place of Cronauer – plays the tape, where Cronauer yells “GOOODBYE VIETNAM!” before launching into some of the impressions he used on the radio, with the final wish for everyone to go home before the film ends.
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