Adrian Cronauer: Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P.Translation Seeing as the Vice President is a Very Important Person, shouldn't we keep the Press Conference on the Quiet? Cause if it leaks to the Viet Cong he could end up Missing In Action, and then we'd all be put on Kitchen Patrol. Incidentally, he was referring in that context to then former Vice-President Richard Nixon.
Bittersweet Ending: Cronauer is kicked out of the Air Force for his unwitting friendship with a VC. Despite his obvious shock and sadness, he does have a few more hours with his beloved English class playing softball with what look like mangoes and bamboo, and gets to say goodbye to Trinh.
Bar Brawl: Instigated when Adrian takes very justifiable offense at two soldiers using racist slurs about Tuan, then pushing him to the floor. Adrian gets in a headbutt on one of the rednecks and knocks him down! Then another, which turns out like a Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh... complete with Oh, Crap, goes out like a light, but fortunately his fellow radio personnel back him up. Earns him a dressing down at the hands of Dickerson.
Blithe Spirit: Adrian Cronauer, to the constant frustration of his superiors.
Adrian Cronauer: Okay, if someone is not telling the truth, you say that they are full of... Vietnamese Class: Shit! Adrian Cronauer: If someone has made you angry or angrier, they have... Vietnamese Class: Pissed me off!
Bowdlerize: In a television broadcast, much of Robin's blue humor was bowdlerized. Ironic, considering the plot.
"This great Godly miracle of radio really gives me the opportunity to speak to you on the air!"
Catch Phrase: "GOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!" Best wake-up call ever.
Could Say It But: Cronauer broadcasts an unapproved news report in this fashion and is yanked off the air because of it.
Cronauer was firsthand witness to the destruction of Jimmy Wah's and the death of at least one serviceman, so we can understand his need to report on it.
Cronauer: (of the blood on his shirt) Where do you think THIS came from, shaving?! It's the truth, I'd like to report the truth; it'd be a nice change of pace!
Despair Event Horizon: Adrian hits it in the village, after Trinh bluntly rebuffs his advances of friendship.
"... Great week..."
Don't Call Me Sir: Sgt. Maj. Dickerson is particularly insistent on this point, taking excessive pride in his non-commissioned status. Ironic, considering the times he tries to pull rank on Cronauer.
Dickerson: You stay out of my way, there'll be no problem... but if you toy with me, I'll burn you so bad, you'll wish you'd died as a child. Am I being fairly clear?
Cronauer: Yes, sir.
Dickerson: Sir! I work for a living, airman. You will address me as Sergeant Major Dickerson.
Cronauer: Yes, Sergeant Major Dickerson.
Dickerson: Cronauer, you better stay cool. You better not get involved in anything. You better not even come in range of anything that happens. Or your ass is grass and I'm a lawnmower. Am I being fairly clear?
Dickerson: Do you see anything on this uniform indicating an officer? [Pointing to his rank insignia] What does three up and three down mean to you, airman?
Cronauer: End of an inning?
Also an example of Shown Their Work: In the US Air Force (Cronauer), it is common to call your superiors "sir" whether commissioned or not, but in the Army (Dickerson), the term is reserved for commissioned officers and will earn you the ire of any NCO on the receiving end.
Evil All Along: It's revealed that Tuan, aka Phan Duc Tho, is a VC terrorist. Bomber of, among other places, Jimmy Wah's.
Facepalm: Marty pulls a rather epic double-facepalm at Lt. Hawk's....err jokes.
Implied in poor Garlick's tone when hopelessly telling Cronauer he needs very specific family-sanctioned introductions to talk to his love interest, before posing as a teacher in her English class.
Adrian Cronauer:Shit! This stuff is burning the hair off my feet!
Ironic in that Vietnamese is actually one of the only South Asian cuisines (due to the century-long imperial presence of France) that doesn't use high spice levels for flavoring.
Giftedly Bad: Hauk has certain opinions on what is and isn't funny, but his routine falls flat. He even goes so far as to use a squeaky horn for comedic interrupts and bleeping.
Hauk: In my heart, I know I'm funny.
Gilligan Cut: Tuan arranges a date between his sister, Trinh, and Adrian, but warns Adrian that he won't like it when he gets there; he'll say it's ridiculous. "Why? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." Cue Trinh in front of a dozen of her family members serving as chaperones and greeting Adrian, and his looking less than pleased.
"That is humor. I recognize that. I also recognize your species of soldier."
Harpo Does Something Funny: It is impossible to write dialogue like Cronauer's radio broadcasts. They just pointed Robin in the general direction they wanted him to go and let him run.
Heroic BSOD: Cronauer gets into a bit of a funk following his suspension (see Could Say It But above). He's reluctant to return to the radio even after Gen. Taylor revokes the suspension, until...
He's Back: ...Edward, driving Cronauer, pulls over near a troop convoy and convinces him to do an impromptu session to prove that Cronauer really is loved by the troops, come what may.
Hollywood History: The real Adrian Cronauer readily admits he was nowhere near as funny or outrageous as Williams. Most of the movie, in fact, is fabricated. Cronauer just played rock music with no commentary, and was sent home when his tour was over.
Insult Backfire: When Jimmy tells Adrian of his Fetish Fuel, soldiers' ankles, and offers Adrian his bar for pictures of them, he says, "You're a very sick man, you know that, don't you?" and Jimmy takes it as a great compliment.
Knight of Cerebus: Dickerson, a monumentally hateful villain who seems imported from a much more serious movie.
The Last DJ: Cronauer, quite literally. The troops love him, most of his superiors don't.
Meaningless Villain Victory: Sgt. Maj. Dickerson does manage to get Cronauer off the air (and out of the military to boot), but in doing so, he shows himself to be such a petty, mean-spirited asshole that Gen. Taylor can't stomach him anymore and has him reassigned to Guam. Taylor also puts Garlick on the air as Cronauer's replacement, knowing full well that he will keep things going the way Crounauer would have.
Mickey Mousing: A minor example: an establishing shot of soldiers de-boarding from a carrier plane is synced up to another of those polka records Hauk loves so much.
Mood Whiplash: The movie starts off very funny and irreverent, as Cronauer adjusts (or doesn't) to life in South Vietnam with characteristic hilarity. Then he's almost blown up by a VC bomb, and finds out that the Vietnamese kid he'd become friendly with is actually a North Vietnamese spy trying to kill as many Americans as he can, and Cronauer eventually becomes horribly disillusioned with the whole situation.Needless to say, the movie ends on a bit of a downer.
Cronauer: (faking like he's taking a phone call) Who's this?
Cronauer: (faking like he's calling in): BOB!
Cronauer: Hey Bob, what do you do?
Cronauer: What can we play for you?
Cronauer: ANYTHING MAN, JUST PLAY IT LOUD!
Passing the Torch: A middle scene has Cronauer messing with Garlick to see what he'd be like as a radio host. After he's reassigned because of his unwitting friendship to a VC, Garlick takes his place.
Reasonable Authority Figure: General Taylor is a pretty nice guy and is willing to give Cronauer rather a lot of latitude compared to to the rest of the brass.
Reassigned to Guam: Sgt. Dickerson's ultimate punishment for his vindictiveness towards Cronauer.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," played over a montage of a village being carpet-bombed, suspected VC members being shot, antiwar riots in the streets of Saigon, and troops on duty at a firebase.
Throw It In: All the funny bits were ad-libbed by Williams.
Uriah Gambit: Dickerson issues Cronauer a pass to interview troops in the field, without telling him that the only road into the area is held by the enemy and dotted with landmines. He aims to Make It Look Like an Accident.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The real Adrian Cronauer says the movie is inaccurate. In truth, pretty much everything except the basic details was fabricated. For example, instead of being the staunch liberal, antiwar, anti-military Robin Williams (despite being in a volunteer-only branch), he describes himself as a "lifelong card-carrying Republican" and was a vice-chairman of the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign, was sent home when his tour ended, and states that much of what Williams did would have gotten him court-martialled in a heartbeat. He was also a Sergeant, not an Airman First Class.
Cronauer really did teach an English class but didn't lie his way in nor use it to chase a local.
What Could Have Been: The original story treatment, written by Adrian Cronauer himself, was an attempt to create a TV series which combined elements of WKRP in Cincinnati and M*A*S*H, two of the most popular shows at the time. This was virtually completely retooled as a vehicle for Robin Williams' improv.
You Need to Get Laid: "You are in more dire need of a blow job than any white man in history." (Cronauer, to Dickerson upon being discharged from the Air Force)