I was lucky enough to meet Robin Williams twice – once on the red carpet for Happy Feet 2, and then the following day in a 1:1 interview. He was a hero of mine since childhood (Aladdin was the first movie I ever saw at the cinema) and I was charging into ‘needs-sedation’ levels of excitement. Interviewing comedians is two things: fun and scary. Fun, because they often improvise at 100-mile-an-hour (400 if you’re Williams) and come up with the most unexpected things. I remember one Aussie journo was handcuffed during a chat with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum for 21 Jump Street (we had fake shootouts in mine). But that off-the-cuff stuff is also what makes it freaking terrifying. You really have to be on your toes. Williams was everything you expect he would be. Intensely clever, kind and off-the-walls funny. Within minutes he was impersonating a drunken Aussie flying fox, or as he said, a “flying cat” . Much like the rest of the world, I was absolutely gutted to hear of his death. Writing about it all day did not help either. It was as if a chunk of my childhood had been ripped away, wrapped up in Hook, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji and Aladdin. So when I found out one of Sydney’s oldest cinemas, The Orpheum, was holding two Robin Williams double-bills (which $2 from every ticket going to Beyond Blue), I was there.
Good Morning, Vietnam, which I’d never seen before, played to a packed theatre before a screening of Dead Poets Society, with most of us leaving the cinema red-eyed and wowed at the late, great Robin Williams.
But onto the movie. GOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM! This really surprised me. Honestly, in the first 20 minutes, I was thinking “where on earth can this story go?”. It just felt like there wasn’t a lot to this movie about rebellious, but popular Army DJ Adrian Cronauer, but I was also way off. Of course Williams’ on-air rants are hilarious, but driven by his immense talent and charm, Good Morning, Vietnam also goes to some unexpected, and frankly, quite dark places, as Adrian comes up against the propaganda and bureaucracy of the US Army. Amid all the banter, there are some real blubber-worthy moments – when he chats to the troops heading out of the city, finds himself speechless at the beginning of a tough news day, and is confronted with a twist I sure as hell didn’t see coming. It was wonderful to see Good Morning, Vietnam on the big screen and kudos to The Orpheum for putting the double-bills on. It’s not my favourite Robin Williams flick out there, but I have to admit, I was impressed with how hooked (no Peter Pan pun intended) I was.