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This Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to This Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in so doing, puts the military mentality and the Marine code of honor on trial.


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This Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to This Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in so doing, puts the military mentality and the Marine code of honor on trial.

30 review for A Few Good Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alastair

    Aaron Sorkin is a phenomenal writer, but as with any human being, he has his limitations. This has become regrettably clear of late with The Newsroom: a show that spent much of its runtime brushing uncomfortably against those personal boundaries. His treatment of his women characters was troubling in a seemingly oblivious, unconscious way. Meanwhile, the "here's how it should be" moral high ground that worked so wonderfully in The West Wing felt progressively preachier the further it stepped fro Aaron Sorkin is a phenomenal writer, but as with any human being, he has his limitations. This has become regrettably clear of late with The Newsroom: a show that spent much of its runtime brushing uncomfortably against those personal boundaries. His treatment of his women characters was troubling in a seemingly oblivious, unconscious way. Meanwhile, the "here's how it should be" moral high ground that worked so wonderfully in The West Wing felt progressively preachier the further it stepped from the Oval Office. The Sorkinesque hallmarks that felt out of place in that show are far more at home in A Few Good Men, the 1986 play that showed just how devastatingly sharp a storyteller he can be, for good and ill, within his narrative comfort zone: a high-stakes, male-dominated field full of moral conviction. Within the military court martial setting, talk of honour and duty feel 100% sincere. Potential melodrama gives way to straight-up drama. It becomes far easier to imagine these hyper-functioning, almost presciently-witted characters existing beyond the page. And the humour - of which there is a lot - positively sparkles in a world designed for no-nonsense ceremony. I have not seen this on stage, nor the film adaptation. I didn't envision any of these characters as Tom Cruise. Heck, until it came up, I had no idea "you can't handle the truth" came from this script. As a pure piece of writing, this is a real accomplishment: admirably focussed, tremendously funny, and surprisingly inventive in its sparse, cleverly-chronology-hopping stage direction. This stands proudly alongside The West Wing as an example of why Aaron Sorkin is so beloved when he gets it right - and why critics hold him to a higher standard when he gets it wrong.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam Floridia

    I've been trying to find a new hobby. Something that could not only fill my time, but that I could also maybe find just a little passion for. Learning an instrument? Maybe. Learning basic coding skills? Perhaps. Then I was sitting in the audience of To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway and it hit me: I should try acting! I remember hearing the term "community theater," and lo and behold a quick Google search revealed that Southington has a community theater! What's more? They were holding open audi I've been trying to find a new hobby. Something that could not only fill my time, but that I could also maybe find just a little passion for. Learning an instrument? Maybe. Learning basic coding skills? Perhaps. Then I was sitting in the audience of To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway and it hit me: I should try acting! I remember hearing the term "community theater," and lo and behold a quick Google search revealed that Southington has a community theater! What's more? They were holding open auditions the very next day. Sure, I've never come close to a stage and I've neither read nor seen A Few Good Men, but why not give it a shot? I am Sam Weinburg. [Insert "shocked" emoji] On the actual book: Not sure why people like it so much; I really don't think it's very good. We'll see if that changes as I read it over and over and over for the next two months. The performance was a smashing success (you know, for community theater). I still don't like the actual play any more than I did, though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    It's a lot of fun to go back and see the source material for some of my favorite movies. This play would go on to become the Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson movie and to launch Aaron Sorkin's career. Some of the best Sorkin-style dialog started here, and it's a joy to imagine the intricate staging described in the play. However, the plot, characters and dialog were all tightened up for the movie, and it is simply better. Still, for this fan, reading this was almost like seeing an alternate "director's c It's a lot of fun to go back and see the source material for some of my favorite movies. This play would go on to become the Tom Cruise/Jack Nicholson movie and to launch Aaron Sorkin's career. Some of the best Sorkin-style dialog started here, and it's a joy to imagine the intricate staging described in the play. However, the plot, characters and dialog were all tightened up for the movie, and it is simply better. Still, for this fan, reading this was almost like seeing an alternate "director's cut" for a movie I love. I had a ball.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma Kay Krebs

    Not quiiiite 4 stars but like.... so close. 3.75.

  5. 4 out of 5

    booksandbark

    SECOND READ, December 2020 "No, wait, I forgot, you were sick the day they taught law at law school" remains one of my favorite lines ever written. FIRST READ, May 2018 Let me preface this review by saying that Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite screenwriters of all time. The West Wing is one of my favorite TV shows, and Molly's Game is one of my favorite movies. So it only makes sense that A Few Good Men would be one of my favorite plays. I've never seen the Broadway show (although I do plan on wa SECOND READ, December 2020 "No, wait, I forgot, you were sick the day they taught law at law school" remains one of my favorite lines ever written. FIRST READ, May 2018 Let me preface this review by saying that Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite screenwriters of all time. The West Wing is one of my favorite TV shows, and Molly's Game is one of my favorite movies. So it only makes sense that A Few Good Men would be one of my favorite plays. I've never seen the Broadway show (although I do plan on watching the movie), but I could just picture the characters talking in my head, just as if I were watching it. There were a lot of names and a lot of military jargon, and it was a bit confusing because Danny and Sam are also two characters in The West Wing, but I really loved this play. It's a quick and easy read, but I really tried to slow down and read it at my own pace. There's the same Sorkin humor that we've come to expect from The West Wing ("No, wait, I forgot, you were sick the day they taught law at law school.", A Few Good Men, pg. 92) and I sort of imagined the characters walking and talking in my head. I loved the depth to the main character, Lt. Danny Kaffee, who is the attorney assigned to take on the two Marines' case. He's a smart, young lawyer, but it seems that he's kind of done everything to be doing it or because his famous, now-dead father wanted him to. He's not really engaged and doesn't apply himself. As much as this work is a discussion about the military code of honor and ethics, it is also a portrait of a young man who appears successful but goes through a range of conflicting emotions as he struggles to find what he values throughout this trial. And it does it all with dialogue, no soliloquy monologues (although there are monologues, because what would an Aaron Sorkin show be without an angry and self-righteous monologue by a young man?!), and without heavy-handedly discussing the issue. There are so many layers to this play, from the idea of what makes a few good men to what makes a good lawyer to what makes a good human being. The best thing is that it's short enough to read and re-read and analyze over and over again! The one thing I was really sad about was Sorkin's lack of discussion about the role of Jo Galloway, the female JAG officer and only female character in the entire play. Galloway is tenacious and smart, and pushes Danny Kaffee (the main character) to be his best. She says she is happy to sit to the side and let him take the lead in this case, but when he stops doing his job properly, she's not afraid to step in and assert her rank (she is a Lt. Commander while Kaffee is a Lt. Junior Grade). But there's very little discussion of what this means in the context of the Marine Corps, a highly male-dominated environment (exemplified by the fact that she is the only female character in the entire play) and which was probably even more so in the 1990s, when this play was written.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Figley

    An interesting and well written, if not at times predictable and melodramatic, courtroom drama about the US military and (real talk) toxic masculinity. Would LOVE to see a performance of this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael P

    If you've seen the film then you've more or less experienced the play, though the famous "You can't handle the truth" comes off as less embellished in this version, but perhaps that's due to the lack of Jack Nicholson. Featuring Sorkin's now well known and equally respected rat-a-tat dialogue, it's an interesting book to look back on considering this is what brought him to such prominence. Even at the beginning of his career, he demonstrates an ability for showcasing language's great beauty. If you've seen the film then you've more or less experienced the play, though the famous "You can't handle the truth" comes off as less embellished in this version, but perhaps that's due to the lack of Jack Nicholson. Featuring Sorkin's now well known and equally respected rat-a-tat dialogue, it's an interesting book to look back on considering this is what brought him to such prominence. Even at the beginning of his career, he demonstrates an ability for showcasing language's great beauty.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    The first read through took me a while, probably because I was memorizing parts as I went instead of reading straight through first. It many scenes it is essentially identical to the movie. There are a few scenes where there are some additions...and probably some subtractions but those were less noticeable. I enjoyed that there isn't really a break between scenes and that they seamlessly flow from one into the next as the lights rise and fall on different parts of the stage. The first read through took me a while, probably because I was memorizing parts as I went instead of reading straight through first. It many scenes it is essentially identical to the movie. There are a few scenes where there are some additions...and probably some subtractions but those were less noticeable. I enjoyed that there isn't really a break between scenes and that they seamlessly flow from one into the next as the lights rise and fall on different parts of the stage.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Read this for school and in the beginning honestly wasn't exactly sure what to think. By our third day of reading and discussing it was starting to grow on me. By the end of the first act, I didn't want the bell to ring. 4 stars due to the slower start in my opinion. Characters are written beautifully, Jo especially! You either love them or want them dead. Read this for school and in the beginning honestly wasn't exactly sure what to think. By our third day of reading and discussing it was starting to grow on me. By the end of the first act, I didn't want the bell to ring. 4 stars due to the slower start in my opinion. Characters are written beautifully, Jo especially! You either love them or want them dead.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Such a well-crafted play that the movie pretty much is the play, just in real locations.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Cavoto

    Aron Sorkin's script depicts a struggle for honour, loyalty, and truth among Marines once a member of their unit is killed on the base at Guantanamo Bay. Sorkin uses quick wit and passionate discussion to portray the two sides of a divided branch of lawyers attempting to prove that not all situations are black and white decisions ,are by the perpetrators. Any fan of Sorkin's television productions will recognise certain recurring themes and familiar lines found in everything from Sports Night and Aron Sorkin's script depicts a struggle for honour, loyalty, and truth among Marines once a member of their unit is killed on the base at Guantanamo Bay. Sorkin uses quick wit and passionate discussion to portray the two sides of a divided branch of lawyers attempting to prove that not all situations are black and white decisions ,are by the perpetrators. Any fan of Sorkin's television productions will recognise certain recurring themes and familiar lines found in everything from Sports Night and the West Wing to The Social Netwwork (2010). The interactions and relationships between the characters are the same kind of playful jest and testing arguments that readers and viewers have come to expect in many of Sorkin's works. As this is a play script rather than a traditional novel, A Few Good Men is a great companion for a road trip or short flight, or anyone looking for a quiet evening on the couch.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian Joynt

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. That Aaron Sorkin dialogue...it's just as hot on the page as it is when it's performed by the actors: "You have to ask me nicely. "You see, Danny, I can deal with the bullets and the bombs and the blood. I can deal with the heat and the stress and the fear. I don't want money and I don't want medals. What I want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform, and with your Harvard mouth, extend me some fuckin' courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely." ...electric stuff. That Aaron Sorkin dialogue...it's just as hot on the page as it is when it's performed by the actors: "You have to ask me nicely. "You see, Danny, I can deal with the bullets and the bombs and the blood. I can deal with the heat and the stress and the fear. I don't want money and I don't want medals. What I want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform, and with your Harvard mouth, extend me some fuckin' courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely." ...electric stuff.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    A fantastic military courtroom drama/mystery. Everybody at my local theatre guild gushes about how fantastic it was in 2015... My lasting regret that I didn't see it. I especially liked the fluid scene changes using lighting. The only hard break is in between the two acts. A fantastic military courtroom drama/mystery. Everybody at my local theatre guild gushes about how fantastic it was in 2015... My lasting regret that I didn't see it. I especially liked the fluid scene changes using lighting. The only hard break is in between the two acts.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vigneswara Prabhu

    One Great thing about Sorkin Scripts are how they are translated, almost verbatim onto the screen. And having watched the movie at least 7 times, it was pretty good imagining the actors acting out the screens as they were filed. Great piece of work. Concise, to the point, and engaging.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Demsky

    I’ve seen the movie at least twice and enjoyed it muchly – finely figure out who wrote it – got a copy and the book is surprisingly only 130 pages or so and is better than the movie!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tuggle

    Funny, tragic and brilliantly written! Nobody writes better dialogue than Sorkin.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    Synopsis: a play. Two men are tried for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine. On screen, Jack Nicholson exclaims, You can't handle the truth. Synopsis: a play. Two men are tried for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine. On screen, Jack Nicholson exclaims, You can't handle the truth.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Almost word for word similar to the movie, but it's amazing how much wit Aaron Sorkin can put in a script. Almost word for word similar to the movie, but it's amazing how much wit Aaron Sorkin can put in a script.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ranette

    Just who is responsible for the death of a young marine.

  20. 5 out of 5

    August Canaille

    Possibly his best work, besides "Hidden in This Picture." Possibly his best work, besides "Hidden in This Picture."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kenzie

    I love this play, the movie adaptation is one of my favorite movies. Can't recommend it enough. I love this play, the movie adaptation is one of my favorite movies. Can't recommend it enough.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ben Weinberg

    An easy, entertaining read. Surprisingly funny, fast paced and thought provoking. Inspired by a newfound love for The West Wing, I wanted to see Sorkin’s words on a page. It did not disappoint.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5/5 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    FiveBooks

    Investigative journalist Nick Davies has chosen to discuss Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's All the President’s Men , on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Investigative Journalism, saying that: “What is so good about All the President’s Men is that most books about journalists are full of gun fights and car chases – but that’s just not what the job involves. Woodward and Bernstein simply wrote a great, really detailed account of the work that went into the case. I still use se Investigative journalist Nick Davies has chosen to discuss Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's All the President’s Men , on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Investigative Journalism, saying that: “What is so good about All the President’s Men is that most books about journalists are full of gun fights and car chases – but that’s just not what the job involves. Woodward and Bernstein simply wrote a great, really detailed account of the work that went into the case. I still use sections from it as case studies when I give lectures.” The full interview is available here: http://five-books.com/interviews/nick-davies

  25. 5 out of 5

    Billy

    Having enjoyed the movie, I was expecting a bit better from the original play. However, the play is an almost incoherent mish-mash. The author clearly knew nothing about the Navy or Marine Corps and tossed in terminology that sounded "military". As a small example, could Sorkin not even have taken the trouble to realize that there is no such transport aircraft as an AF-40? I'm not as well versed on the trial side of the house, but my JAG friends tell me that the court-martial was also a dog's br Having enjoyed the movie, I was expecting a bit better from the original play. However, the play is an almost incoherent mish-mash. The author clearly knew nothing about the Navy or Marine Corps and tossed in terminology that sounded "military". As a small example, could Sorkin not even have taken the trouble to realize that there is no such transport aircraft as an AF-40? I'm not as well versed on the trial side of the house, but my JAG friends tell me that the court-martial was also a dog's breakfast. The dialogue is juvenile. The characterizations are so two-dimensional that they're an insult to two dimensions. If anything, this play speaks to the ability of really good actors to rescue so-so material.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I guess it makes sense that this is pretty much word for word the movie's script since it is a screenplay but I guess I wasn't expecting that. However, if you've seen the movie, you know how powerful this story is. Obviously, I think it's better when performed because it is a play but I did enjoy reading the words. Aaron Sorkin is a true genius when it comes to dialogue so it was interesting to slow down and take in his words (if you've seen his work on the screen, you know of his famous walk an I guess it makes sense that this is pretty much word for word the movie's script since it is a screenplay but I guess I wasn't expecting that. However, if you've seen the movie, you know how powerful this story is. Obviously, I think it's better when performed because it is a play but I did enjoy reading the words. Aaron Sorkin is a true genius when it comes to dialogue so it was interesting to slow down and take in his words (if you've seen his work on the screen, you know of his famous walk and talks and general dialogue, which can be very swift). I love this story because it takes on gender norms within the Marines and skillfully blends a court room drama with legal discourse, the intricacies and complexities of military law, and the human experience.

  27. 5 out of 5

    SmarterLilac

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not what I would call a "good" play. Sorkin left in a lot of extraneous dialogue, and scripted some really unrealistic situations (there's a scene in which Daniel Kaffee actually punches Harrold Dawson in the stomach(!)). Still, I'm impressed that what must surely have been a controversial piece of work ever made it to the stage, let alone into a screenplay. Also, on a personal note, I think it's spooky that I was motivated to read this on the exact night that the infamous William Santiago was m Not what I would call a "good" play. Sorkin left in a lot of extraneous dialogue, and scripted some really unrealistic situations (there's a scene in which Daniel Kaffee actually punches Harrold Dawson in the stomach(!)). Still, I'm impressed that what must surely have been a controversial piece of work ever made it to the stage, let alone into a screenplay. Also, on a personal note, I think it's spooky that I was motivated to read this on the exact night that the infamous William Santiago was murdered. Weird.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Timm

    What I like about this play is that the characters are created only out of their dialogue, there is minimal stage direction, sets or notes on what the playwright is looking for in the performance. For example in many Tennessee Williams or Arther Miller plays they have lengthy character explanations and notes on what feeling the play should have, not that that's a bad thing, but I like how A Few Good Men is just pulled forward by the character and their dialog colliding. What I like about this play is that the characters are created only out of their dialogue, there is minimal stage direction, sets or notes on what the playwright is looking for in the performance. For example in many Tennessee Williams or Arther Miller plays they have lengthy character explanations and notes on what feeling the play should have, not that that's a bad thing, but I like how A Few Good Men is just pulled forward by the character and their dialog colliding.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave Clapper

    I remember reading this well before the movie came out. I was part of a theater company that was comprised of seven men and one woman, so I was reading lots of plays with male-heavy casts. This had been highly recommended to me and I just thought it was "eh." Felt pretty much the same about the movie when it came out. I remember reading this well before the movie came out. I was part of a theater company that was comprised of seven men and one woman, so I was reading lots of plays with male-heavy casts. This had been highly recommended to me and I just thought it was "eh." Felt pretty much the same about the movie when it came out.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    The original play by Aaron Sorkin before the screenplay and film. Amazing to see this master's early work. e.g. "You can't handle the truth!" is trampled over, buried deep in a monologue. Not the classic line it developed into for the film but as a setup for Kaffee to pay off later. "That's the truth isn't it colonel? I can handle it." The original play by Aaron Sorkin before the screenplay and film. Amazing to see this master's early work. e.g. "You can't handle the truth!" is trampled over, buried deep in a monologue. Not the classic line it developed into for the film but as a setup for Kaffee to pay off later. "That's the truth isn't it colonel? I can handle it."

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