THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER (APPLE TV+) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: Chickie (Zac Efron) wants to support his friends fighting in Vietnam, so he does something wild—personally bring them American beer. What starts as a well-meaning journey quickly changes Chickie’s life and perspective. Based on a true story.
After years of doing gross out comedies with his brother, Bobby, Peter Farrelly finally hit the jackpot with Green Book, the light hearted, Academy-award winning drama co-written and directed by him.
Given his recent win, it seems like Peter Farrelly isn’t going to do a sequel to There’s Something About Mary anytime soon. So here he is reteaming with his frequent collaborators, Brian Hayes Currie and Pete Jones in adapting John “Chickie” Donohue’s biography, “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” for Apple streaming service.
Chickie (Zack Efron) is a seaman who stays with his family but his family sees him as more of a slacker. With most of his neighbourhood friends serving in the Vietnam war and his own sister protesting against it, Chickie hatches an insane idea of delivering beers to this friends in the war torn country in order to lift their spirits while drinking in the local bar.
It sounds kind of insane and stupid at the same time. But the story is true. Farrelly and his writers didn’t hatch this out of thin air. And thus Chickie went out to stuff a duffel bag full of cheap American beer, hop on a supply ship to Saigon working as an oiler and begins to track down his friends for the next 72 hours before the ship leaves.
Needless to say, The Greatest Beer Run Ever is more of a shallow look at the cruelty of the Vietnam war than a realistic depiction of it and politics despite Farrelly’s gung-ho attempt in shoving in some old news clips with some onscreen characters commenting on it. There’s never a believable second onscreen that you believed Chickie is in some form of danger. Maybe indeed the original story is so outrageous that it’s all due to dumb luck that he survives all sorts of danger including whizzing bullets and napalm bombing.
Even if Farrelly fails to juggle humor and the complexity of the subject, there’s a decent amount of goofy charm to the entire affair that makes it so endearing in the end. Chickie might be stupid but there’s no denying that he brought with him a sign of encouragement to his buddies on the battlefield. The ongoing gag that he is a CIA agent in disguise certainly result in a chuckle or two.
Efron has come a long way since his High School Musical days and we think he certainly nails the part of Chickie from being a slacker to a young man with a wider perspective of things after his “mission”. Another big star Russell Crowe plays a war correspondent, Arthur Coates who brought Chickie along in the coverage of a Vietcong attack in the last act of the movie. Coates is an interesting character, too bad his character received too little screentime. Troubled comedian Bill Murray on the other hand has an extended cameo as the bar’s owner dubbed The Colonel.
While this is definitely not on the level of Farrelly’s Green Book and the anti-war message being a little muddled, The Greatest Beer Run Ever is an enjoyable flick unless you are super keen on the realism of journalism, politics and war.
Review by Linus Tee