[Editor’s note: The following piece by Neal Pollack may not initially seem timely to you. You may think, “This isn’t timely, is it? I mean, that movie came out a month ago.” Well, we say this: First, the movie is still in theaters, last we checked, so it’s not as if he’s making fun of, say, the remake of Godzilla. Second: There is no second. Why do you always need a second? Besides, Neal just got around to seeing the movie in question, because he is a famous writer and doesn’t have time to see every single movie the instant it comes out, namely because he has better things to do, such as write what you’re about to read. Enjoy.]
Willard accidentally super-glues his penis to his hand while practicing martial arts in a Saigon hotel. To the tune of “Riders On the Storm,” he staggers onto his balcony, shouting incoherencies. The police roar up, guns drawn, and Willard inquires as to the identity of their commanding officer. A foreign exchange student, with whom Willard is in love, arrives. Terribly embarrassed, Willard howls madly and then is struck by lightning.
At sunset, Colonel Kilgore and his soldiers have a clambake on the shore. The Beach Boys appear to sing “Surfer Girl.” Don Rickles and the always-amusing Edie Adams drive up in a jalopy. Rickles insults Kilgore by calling him a “napalm-loving knucklehead.” To show the squares what’s what, Kilgore firebombs another village. Then he takes acid and falls in love with a mermaid.
In flashback, Willard and a French widow remember a romantic weekend they spent in Paris long ago, before the war changed everything. They determine that their problems don’t add up to a hill of beans in this mixed-up world. Willard asks the piano man to play that one about “breaking on through to the other side.” The Playboy bunnies appear, and everyone drops acid and has sex.
On the boat, Clean eats some mescaline. He envisions an alternate reality where humans have been enslaved by highly evolved robots, a sophisticated computer program fools people into thinking everything is normal, and you can freeze time and do some really cool fighting moves. Clean looks at Willard, says, “He is The One,” and takes the blue pill to forget all his problems.
The boat pulls into Kurtz’s encampment. Kurtz emerges from his private outhouse. “Whoooo!” he says, fanning himself with a magazine. “Don’t nobody go in there for thirty-five to forty-five minutes!”
Harvey Keitel emerges from the brush and demands his role back. Kurtz declares him a “bad lieutenant” and banishes him to a small island to live with a piano-playing mute and her whiny daughter. We see his butt. Then they take acid and have sex.
The photojournalist drops acid and wanders off into the jungle, where he encounters a velociraptor who calls himself “The Lizard King” and speaks in verse. Returning to camp, the photojournalist tries to convince everyone that his new master is a kind dinosaur and a wise dinosaur and that he has plans, but, as usual, nobody pays attention to photojournalists.
Willard reports to General William Westmoreland. They lament that Vietnam isn’t going so well. The general assigns Willard, along with Willard’s best boyhood chum who was presumed dead in the Tet offensive, to an elite fighter squadron that is staging a bombing mission on Tokyo. The raid is successful, and we win the war after all.
Lance and Willard sail away as Kurtz’s hideaway bursts into flames. A few miles out, their boat sinks, and they are trapped underwater for 1,000 years. Aliens arrive and find them frozen. After reviving him, the aliens tell Willard that he is a “special treasure.” He is allowed to spend one day with his mother, with whom he drops some really great acid. The horror finally goes away.