We gave it an A-
China Beach vets John Sacret Young and Rod Holcomb go back into battle as writer and director of the Gulf War epic Thanks of a Grateful Nation. The docudrama grippingly mixes interviews of Desert Storm survivors with depictions of Americans exposed to toxic chemicals. Among the affecting vignettes: A Special Forces combatant (Sour Grapes‘ Matt Keeslar) impulsively marries a two-time divorcee (an Emmy-worthy Jennifer Jason Leigh) before heading off to war, then returns a hollow-eyed, chronically ill shell of his former self. And a bible-thumping Texan (Wings‘ Steven Weber) takes a job capping off burning oil wells in Kuwait and winds up developing brain cancer.
Ted Danson ties these story lines together as an abrasive aide to Sen. Donald Riegle (Brian Dennehy) who investigates the U.S.’s role in supplying Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with the chemicals. Thanks threatens to turn into The X-Files when Danson meets a Deep Throat-like informant known as ”the Vet,” and you may think you’ve switched to C-SPAN in the hearing-packed second half. Yet Young and Holcomb add just enough soap opera to hold our interest. The film isn’t always easy to watch, but if you stick with it, you’ll be grateful. A-