Born on the Fourth of July (1989)


“People say that if you don’t love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America. ” – Ron Kovic

Number of Times Seen – At least 5 times (cable in the 80’s and 90’s, video, DVD and 3 Jul 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A patriotic young boy growing up in the 50’s and 60’s decides to join the Marines and serve his country in Vietnam.

My Take on it – Oliver Stone shocked the world when he made the film Platoon (1986) because it was one of the first times when the war in Vietnam was portrayed as not necessarily being a patriotic war like WWII and Korea were perceived.

Yet, less than 3 years later, Stone was able to give us yet another perspective on the war that affected him and so many others.

This is a biopic of a young man who joined the Marines purely for Patriotic reasons and then begins to question the way that the war is being fought and the way that the men are expected to act while they are there.

Ron Kovic is yet another former soldier like Stone who’s experiences during the 60’s affected his patriotic feelings toward his country and how his life was forever changed by those feelings.

Tom Cruise was a great choice to portray Kovic and even during the ten years shown here Cruise’s portrayal continues to grow along with the character.

I must admit that the really really bad fake wigs used by many of the characters to show the 60’s counter culture looked super ridiculous yet still keeps the story grounded due to the time and place it’s trying to show us.

This is the middle story of Stone’s anti-Vietnam trilogy and it gives a great diverse persoective on the effects on the War.

1989 was a great year for the Oscars and the 5 films chosen to be nominated for Best Picture are all great, but when looking back, this is definitely among the top two [The other being Dead Poet’s Society (1989)].  I’m still a bit shocked that Driving Miss Daisy (1989) was able to pull off the win, but I’m still glad that the Academy knew that Stone deserved Best Director even if they didn’t choose this film for the top prize.

Bottom Line – Once again Stone gives us an amazing look at what it was like growing up in the 60’s and how patriotism and duty change one’s life forever. Cruise is amazing in this film as the title character and truly makes us believe everything he is going for. The fake wigs that many of characters wear in order to make them seem more like part of the 60’s counter culture takes away a bit from the seriousness of it all, but there is really no doubt as to how genuine this all feels.  The anti-war message is once again clear here and it proved that it’s possible to tell similar stories in completely different ways yet remain effective in both of them. 1989 was a great year at the Oscars, and there is no doubt that this film probably should have won Best Picture over the eventual winner Driving Miss Daisy (1989).  At least Stone still got the award for Best Director. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The real Ron Kovic gave Tom Cruise his Bronze Star for his performance in this movie. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy

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4 thoughts on “Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

  1. Pingback: Movies Reviewed Index A-Z |

  2. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Picture – Oscars 1989 |

  3. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1989 |

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