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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 31.03%
Average: 8.62%
Pretty Bad: 13.79%
Total Crap: 8.62%

3 reviews, 40 user ratings

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Born on the Fourth of July
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by Chris Parry

"This is a newsflash. America still a shithole. Pictures at 11."
4 stars

Say what you will about Tom Cruise. Say he's a Scientologist loon. Say he's insane if he prefers Mushmouth Cruz over Ginger-Bush Kidman. Say he looked like a total prat trying to make the Mission Impossible movies, Vanilla Sky and Eyes Wide Shut seem worth the price of admission. But for every ten things about Tom Cruise that you can laugh at while drunk, there's one thing that tilts the scales back in his favor. For every time he sues a UK tabloid, he dishes out a performance like that in Magnolia. For every gay porn actor that claims Ttom rattled the rim, there's a performance like that in Minority Report. And for every time we ever wished we could see Cruise beaten to a bloody pulp so that our girlfriends would stop drooling over him, there's Born on the Fourth of July.

Ron Kovic was a patriot at a time when it was cooler to be an anti-patriot. As the American GI Joe's piled into the Vietnamese jungles, Kovic was there, front and center. Why? Because he bought into the rhetoric. Because he believed the bull. Because he had balls the size of watermelons and brains the size of a split pea.

Ronnie goes marching off to war and, shock, horror, realizes it kind of sucks. Worse, he realizes it kind of sucks to get shot at. Still worse, he realizes it kind of sucks to have five inches of spine shot out the back of your shirt. So Ronnie comes home in a chair and finally learns what the rest of us figured out long ago - that bravery isn't a defence against someone who wants to kill you (and that black hospital orderlies prefer to play dice than prevent a white patient from losing a kidney to infection).

Having been to hell and back (both at home and abroad), Kovic turned his experiences into a best-selling book, and of course it soon followed that provocateur extraordinaire Oliver Stone would then turn that book into a feature film, but is it a trip worth taking for the average film fan? Well, that depends on how much you enjoy solid writing, fantastic acting, and the often-overpowering visual wankery of senor Oliver Stone.

Stone's penchant for the out-of-focus, extreme, monster close-up might light the fire of the cappucino-sippers in the audience, but to most it just comes across as tired and simplistic. A rain of frogs - that's new. An extreme close-up of a dribbling Tom Cruise... not so much. Stone was once the king of Hollywood, but let's face it, so was Chaplin - that doesn't mean he's giving Adam Sandler a run for his money (more's the pity). After cinematic dribble like Any Given Sunday and U-Turn, Oliver Stone has all but cashed in his 'get out of rehab free' card, and despite Born on the Fourth of July being a mighty worthy (if depressing) film experience, it gets there despite Stone's influence, not because of it.

If this is a four star film, you can rest assured that three of those stars come from he balls-out bravura of Tom Cruise in the lead role. As flag-waving youth and browbeaten paraplegic, raving drug-user and goody two-shoes high school wrestling star, never once do you feel like you're being lied to. Not one time does Cruise drop his guard and let you see the man behind the curtain. He just ploughs on through the story, bringing believability and depth to a story that needs both. It's just a shame that Cruise is fought every step of the way by a director who insists on not letting you forget that he too was on the set.

Thoroughly depressing, at times sickening, and in the end run wholly disconcerting, Born on the Fourth of July is a film, like Saving Private Ryan, that has a whole lot of great if you can just get past the thin layer of Hollywood goop.

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originally posted: 07/03/02 21:32:55
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell impressive but depressing 4 stars
5/06/13 Tammy This movie is awesome and Tom Cruise is the best actor. 5 stars
8/24/12 roscoe good, but is patch work. cuts from one part of his life to the next without connecting 4 stars
9/27/11 sake02mo love that movie 5 stars
7/25/11 Quigley One of Cruise's greatest roles. He is a great actor and this film will always be a reminder 5 stars
10/23/10 Stormy Rockweather PENIS! PENIS! PENIS! 4 stars
5/02/10 Amy Green Why can't Tom Cruise do more movies as good as this one? Plus, love Edie Brickell's song. 4 stars
3/10/10 Richard Brandt Like most patriotic dreams, left blown up on some far-flung battlefield 5 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Great film about Vietnam. True story . 5 stars
8/21/09 Jeff Wilder Like Platoon very effective. But difficult to watch more than once. 4 stars
5/04/08 mr.mike Held my interest till the last half hour 4 stars
9/25/07 mark one great film that is very important because it tells the truth 5 stars
11/14/06 action movie fan left wing propaganda but an interesting true story that moved--much better than platton or 4 stars
5/16/06 bmac solid. not good but solid 3 stars
11/08/05 noops this is the truth of vietnam war 4 stars
8/06/05 Richard Simmons anti-american POS... 1 stars
11/02/04 J bird awsome war film to follow stones "platoon" 5 stars
5/15/04 cynthia suxs..its totalli crap..dun make sense, camera kept moving, couln't see a shit 1 stars
11/29/03 Jaron background colors are a little confusing, but still a very good film!! 4 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones Born on the 4th July - Who Cares! Steffi born 14 June 69 1 stars
1/13/03 Jack Sommersby Overblown, overstated, and just plain overbearing. 1 stars
7/27/02 I Can't Swim His wig aside, Tom's best effort. He creates a person, not a type. Dafoe good too 5 stars
7/04/02 Charles Tatum The world according to Oliver Stone 3 stars
3/12/02 KMG Suck my titties.... 3 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Intriguing, important film about the horrors of post-vietnam life. Oliver Stone delivers. 5 stars
6/30/01 Cynthia Perna I felt like I was wading through a sewer. You couldn't pay me to watch this film again. 2 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L more heavy handed cliches from oliver stone... 1 stars
2/17/01 jk penis penis penis penis !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/04/01 homer simpson it teaches the young folks about how the world was during the 1970's 4 stars
1/01/01 Msitrab Oliver Stone is a genious 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla a great movie, one of stones best, (cept for that sex scene) 5 stars
11/04/00 viking an over long glorification of self-pity. 3 stars
10/12/00 Bruce Another Oliver Stone masterpiece 5 stars
10/05/00 The REAL Game 3:16 * * * * (out of * * * *) Brilliant Movie; I Rarely Well Up in Tears on Movies, this I did. 5 stars
9/09/00 Elvisfan Tom is great but all Oliver Stones movies feature the LOUSIEST wigs!! 5 stars
3/25/00 Richard Wright A biopic that keeps you watching, but a bit less melodrama would have gone a long way. 3 stars
2/13/00 Greek1111111 The impact is viscerally emotional 5 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg WHAT? Stone's films are all magnificent (cept "Nixon"). I hated the ending though. 4 stars
3/25/99 James Coffey One of Oliver Stone's worst movies 2 stars
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  20-Dec-1989 (R)
  DVD: 19-Oct-2004


  02-Feb-1990 (M)

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