Movies of 1987 Bracket Game: Lethal Weapon Vs. Good Morning Vietnam
Today’s match pairs two rising stars against each other at the moments when their careers took shape. Robin Williams and Mel Gibson were among Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men. And they can both trace their A-list status back to the movies they headlined in 1987. Gibson costarred opposite Danny Glover in the buddy-cop movie that defined the genre. And Williams received his first-ever Oscar nomination for playing a zany army DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Service during the Vietnam Conflict.
Before we get into today’s A-list dust-up, we’ve got to close out the first round of our game.
Our final match of the first round was a bit lopsided. Mel Brooks’ sci-fi spoof, Spaceballs, couldn’t keep up with the Coen brothers’ cult comedy, Raising Arizona. That means the Nicolas Cage-Holly Hunter comedy will become the final movie in our elite eight.
Robin Williams made the transition from TV to movies in 1980 with the big screen adaptation of Popeye. But it took seven years before Williams had his first real hit movie. Prior to 1987, the comic actor best known for playing Mork from Ork was on a losing streak. But Good Morning Vietnam changed all that. The movie allowed Williams to cut loose with his manic, stream-of-consciousness comedy while also plumbing some dramatic depths.
Two years later. Williams followed up Good Morning, Vietnam with a supporting role in Dead Poets Society which also allowed him to blend his stand-up comic style into a dramatic performance. After his second Best Actor nomination, Williams became Hollywood’s go-to guy for dramatic-comedies. Williams’ long career went off in different directions from that point, but ultimately Good Morning, Vietnam paved the way for his eventual Oscar win for Goodwill Hunting in 1997.
Mel Gibson spent the early 1980’s transitioning from Australian movies to Hollywood. In 1984, Gibson made his American debut in the drama, The River. Gibson had a taste of success the following year with his final turn as Mad Max, but it wasn’t until Lethal Weapon in 1987 that he had a Hollywood hit. Knowing a good thing when he saw it, Gibson made the Lethal Weapon franchise into the backbone of his career for the next several years. Lethal Weapons 2, 3 and 4 continued Gibson’s hit parade which afforded him the opportunity to direct.
Gibson made his directorial debut in 1993 with the drama, The Man Without a Face. The movie wasn’t a hit, but it was sandwiched between blockbusters like Lethal Weapon 3 and Maverick which may as well have been Lethal Weapon of the West. Two years later, Gibson got another shot at the director’s chair with Braveheart for which he took home two Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.
Few actors enjoy the critical and commercial success Gibson experienced in the 80’s and 90’s. That started with the first Lethal Weapon and was maintained through its sequels. Without his lucrative franchise, Gibson probably never would have had a chance to direct his Oscar-winning opus.
Which of these career-defining movies is your favorite?
Posted on January 10, 2017, in bracket game, Movies and tagged 1987, Barry Levinson, Danny Glover, good morning vietnam, lethal weapon, mel gibson, Richard Donner, Robin Williams. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.