In any movie about a rebellious, hilarious wise-cracker who plays by his own rules and flouts authority, there has to be an unreasonable, stick-in-his-ass authority figure to oppose him. If the main character is a student, then the bad guy is usually the school's principal (see: The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off), and if the hero is in the military -- as in Good Morning, Vietnam -- then it's some mean commanding officer.
Now, we realize that it might be a little annoying to have to hear the comedic stylings of Robin Williams when you're busy trying to fight the Vietcong, so even though bad guy Sergeant Major Dickerson is, well, a dick, his motivations in Good Morning, Vietnam are understandable. After all, when the Army DJ continuously disrespects his superior officer, starts bar fights and reports classified information without clearance, someone has to take some sort of action.
But mainly it's the "having to hear the comedic stylings of Robin Williams" part.
Also, the guy has a controversial habit of playing some of that wildly offensive rock 'n' roll music (mainly the Beach Boys).
The Pointless Evil:
What doesn't seem so reasonable is the key plot point where Dickerson sends Williams to an almost certain death on a road he knows is infested with Vietcong combatants. Because he was a bad DJ. That's right, Robin Williams is so annoying that he single-handedly causes a perfectly normal army officer to turn into a war criminal.
"Let's see how wacky you are when I assign you to landmine-stomping duty."
Earlier in the movie, Dickerson does try to get his superior officer, Brigadier General Taylor, to kick Williams out, but Taylor sticks up for him. This is the moment in every '80s high school movie where a parent firmly tells a bully to back off, which usually has the exact opposite effect. The same thing happens here -- Dickerson, like a typical bully, hates Williams because he's the unconventional new guy who's causing a stir among the students and becoming close with the main cheerleader.
Played here by Forest Whitaker.
The difference is that instead of giving him swirlies or atomic wedgies, Dickerson's bullying consists of sending Williams and his friend on a deliberate suicide mission. It's like when the bully rats out the new guy to the principal and they send him to detention, except "detention" in this case means "five years drinking his own piss in a prison camp." These are all adults fighting a war against a common enemy, and you'd think there would be more pressing things than an interpersonal rivalry regarding the quality of the army's music.
And then there's also the fact that the soldiers (for whatever reason) absolutely love their new DJ -- even if Dickerson was physically incapable of laughing, he had to have realized the importance of troop morale.
"I've had it up to here with how effective you're making our soldiers!"
Obviously Williams survives (thanks to the help of some natives he had befriended), so what does Taylor do when he realizes that Dickerson is actually a dangerous psychopath? He transfers him to Guam, which is apparently the army equivalent of switching a priest to another parish if he gets fresh with the altar boys.
You might recall The Fifth Element under its working title, Die Hard ... In Space! Bruce Willis plays a space prosti-- er, futuristic cab driver and retired army officer who finds himself in the wrong place (the universe) at the wrong time (right before the end of the universe). Meanwhile, Milla Jovovich.
"Does this lack of an outfit make me look fat?"
The bad guy is Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, played by Gary Oldman, who has been paid to help precipitate the aforementioned end of the universe.
The Pointless Evil:
Wait, what? Someone is paying this guy to destroy everything that exists ... including himself? How could he not see the problem with that plan?
The same way he can't see the problem with that comb-over, apparently.
Zorg isn't a supernatural entity capable of withstanding universal annihilation, by the way -- he's just a businessman, motivated entirely by greed. He also happens to be the wealthiest and most powerful person in the universe, which means that he's actually the one who stands to lose the most if all of existence should blow up. Which, we can't stress this enough, is exactly what he's trying to do.
Maybe his reward will be spiritual, like he's some sort of worshiper of death or something? Nope: At one point we see him talking on the phone with the "Great Evil" that hired him, whom he warns that his "costs have tripled." He's definitely doing this for money (that he'll never be able to spend). There's a huge chance that Great Evil, having laid dormant for the past five thousand years, doesn't even have access to that type of cash, but that makes no difference whatsoever because there's no scenario in which Zorg will get to collect his reward.
"A bajillion dollars, you say? Sure. I can promise a naked Marilyn Monroe, too, while we're at it."
Well, what if Zorg simply doesn't know what his boss is up to? As if the fact that he can't talk to Great Evil on the phone without his head spontaneously starting to bleed didn't tip him off, Zorg uses surveillance bugs to listen to a conversation in the president's spacecraft in which Great Evil's purpose is spelled out, and he still agrees to help it. A last minute double-cross is out of the question, too, because Zorg knows that Great Evil can't be destroyed by any human weapons, only through five elemental stones -- the same stones Zorg is actively trying to destroy.
The closest explanation we get is a scene where Zorg breaks a glass and a bunch of little robot helpers immediately come in to clean it up, as Zorg explains that "all life comes from destruction" ... but that makes no sense in this context, because there'll be nothing to clean up after the universe explodes and no one to do the cleaning.
Also, the surveillance bugs we mentioned were actual bugs, so maybe the guy was just easily confused.
For more shortcomings by writers, check out The 5 Most Easily Avoidable Movie Deaths and The 6 Most Pointless Supervillain Schemes Ever Hatched.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see why John Cheese keeps his G.I. JOEs in mason jars.
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