The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Al Pacino turned down the role of Kovic's father. Several years earlier, another version was proposed with Pacino as Kovic, and William Friedkin directing. See more »
Ron joined the Marines in 1964, yet when he is in his bedroom contemplating his decision to join, the Yankees game on the radio states that Mickey Mantle has just hit his 491st career home run. Mickey Mantle's 491st home run was hit in July 1966. See more »
You probably think it's just a hamburger. A patty's just a piece of meat, but it can have character. See that doughnut hole? Gets 18 patties to the pound instead of 16. Saves me about $40,000 a year. That's serious money, Ron. I plug the hole with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, spices. I cover it with a pickle. They'll never miss a thing.
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Written by Quirino Mendoza, Arranged by Trini López (as Trini Lopez)
Performed by Trini López (as Trini Lopez)
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
Published by Polygram International Publishing, Inc. See more »
Absorbing Piece of Work
Let's start with the good news. "Born on the Fourth of July" is an absorbing piece of work, based on a true story, about Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a gung-ho Marine-turned-war-protester. We first meet Kovic as an all-American boy as strong in his faith as he is in his will to succeed. After high school he proudly joins the Marines, hoping he'll be shipped to Vietnam to stop the spread of communism. But the barbarities of war, including civilian casualties, friendly fire and a paralyzing bullet through the chest, gradually turn him against the conflict. Director Oliver Stone's method of telling Kovic's story over a period of several years is highly effective and convincing. Cruise is at his best as Kovic, portraying a wide range of emotions and developing apathy with the viewer. The audience feels what he feels, from confusion on the battlefield to the terror of being paralyzed from the waist down.
Now for the bad news. The picture is overly political, with Stone once again (and unnecessarily) casting Republicans as the bad guys and Democrats as the good guys (seemingly ignoring that the Dems initially sent the troops to 'Nam). The film also takes a while to build up steam, and the all-American life of the pre-Marine Kovic seems a little too perfect to be believable. Obviously a story such as this requires adequate screen time, but the 145 minutes is slightly drawn out, particularly toward the end. And although one of its central themes is the opposition to the war that greeted returning vets, the genesis and rationale of that opposition are not adequately explored.
As a whole, however, "Born of the Fourth of July" is recommended. Kovic's biography and Stone's masterful storytelling are a perfect match. It's not your typical war movie. In fact, it's not your typical movie, period.
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