The Greatest Beer Run Ever review: Zac Efron in Nam, with Beer.

Film festival awards don’t usually have a huge lasting impact, but when Green Book played at the Toronto International Film Festival four years ago and won the People’s Choice Award, it had a seismic impact. It put the film on the path to Oscar fame. Since this turned out to be a very bumpy road, and many critics dumped the film for its outdated liberal racial slur (I didn’t — I loved “Green Book”), the Toronto Award kept coming back for The Entertainment. It was used to denote the type of appeal the film had – namely that perhaps this wasn’t a film destined to be embraced by the most elite levels of the establishment, but rather one that “people looked out for.” ” decided. And that’s exactly what happened. (The people, in this case, including a great many Oscar voters.)

When the world premiere of The Greatest Beer Run Ever took place in Toronto tonight, the first film Peter Farrelly has directed since Green Book, you can bet the thoughts of the award lingered in the air. What I can report, however, is that whatever The Greatest Beer Run Ever wins or doesn’t win in Toronto, the movie is Not I’m going to pull a repeat of the Green Book juggernaut.

That’s because the movie doesn’t deliver this time. It’s directed with the same kind of vibrant, mainstream craftsmanship and expert lens (by Sean Porter) that made Green Book come across so easily. But this film was fueled by two top notch performances, and whatever you think of its politics, it had a witty and cleverly structured buddy road movie script. It all added up.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever rumbles and meanders, and not just because it lacks structure. What we see is only semi-interesting on a human level and pretty sloppy. Like Green Book, Greatest Beer Run is based on a true story, but what Peter Farrelly answered in that story translates this time into symbolic “relevant” Boomer nostalgia that hasn’t been fully thought through.

Zac Efron, dressed in plaid shirts and with a thick dark mustache, plays John “Chickie” Donahue, a Marine Corps veteran and merchant seaman who whiles his days – and indeed his existence – by living in his parents’ working-class home. Class Inwood section of Upper Manhattan. It’s 1967 and Chickie, an unabashed dork, hangs out with his buddies at the local bar and talks about all the neighborhood friends fighting in Vietnam. Chickie always makes a point of how much he supports the troops. So do his friends, as does the Colonel (Bill Murray), a WWII veteran who waits at the bar and insists that the soldiers of Vietnam are all heroes. But not everyone feels that way. Opposition to the war is mounting and Chickie’s sister Christine (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis) is among those joining the local protests, complete with placards and the classic cliché “Hey, hey, LBJ! How many children did you kill today?”

A culture war is raging, tearing families – and perhaps the entire country – apart. Farrelly wants us to hear an echo of today’s culture war, but it doesn’t take long for that parallel to fade from the film. Because The Greatest Beer Run Ever has more in mind. Something significant. Something morally and spiritually cleansing. Sit down?

Chickie wants to bring some beers to his Grunt buddies in Vietnam.

This doesn’t seem like a good idea to us. Unless, of course, The Greatest Beer Run Ever was an ’80s comedy starring Chevy Chase, in which case it would be a very good idea. But the story the film tells actually happened: in 1967, Chickie Donahue actually went to Vietnam on a merchant marine ship, landed in Saigon, and tried to get into the country with a bag full of beer. But that doesn’t mean what happened to him is compelling. Basically, Greatest Beer Run tells the story of an unworldly whim mixed with a good dose of goofiness. And the film, oddly enough, even understands that.

It doesn’t take long for Chickie to get to ‘Nam (the merchant marine cruise lasts two months, but only a moment of screen time), and early on, after he’s hitchhiked north, there’s a scene of him at the base ends up camp at his sidekick Rick Duggan (Jake Picking), a soldier who has to scoot through a combat zone just to meet him. Rick walks in and Chickie gives him a huge grin and holds up a few beers, expecting Rick to be thrilled to see him. Instead, Rick is pissed. He just came running through a hail of bullets and he wants to know: What the hell is Chickie doing? He doesn’t belong there. Rick doesn’t need a beer, and this whole thing sounds a little crazy. We listen to these rants and think, “Okay, we weren’t crazy because we thought it was a stupid idea.” But Chickie persists in his lopsided optimism even when he’s being shot at unarmed in a foxhole. He wants to see his friends! Hopefully including Tommy (Will Hochman), who is missing from the field but who Chickie is almost certain will turn up. Doesn’t he want a beer?

With Farrelly being too good a filmmaker to cut corners, a lot of The Greatest Beer Run Ever is — get the irony of the title? – dedicated to the logistics of how Chickie gets around Vietnam. Part of it is a running gag that sounds like it belongs in that Chevy Chase movie: since Chickie has no military credentials, an officer assumes he’s with the CIA, and Chickie’s denial of it only plays confirmation . And he always hits that note. He’s catapulted through ‘Nam – on planes, on helicopters, in jeeps – based on the perception that he’s a powerful agent in need of care.

Out in the country, however, he is mostly at sea. And since the film is organized in such a way that he rarely connects with anyone for more than a few minutes, his odyssey has a tiresome pull. We know that even the soldier friends he chooses to hook up with don’t bother to watch him see (and why should they? They’re in the shit). So how invested can we be if he ends up hitting them?

Zac Efron is an actor I admire, but in this film he’s forced to play a guy that we have to work hard for. It’s not that Efron is any less than likable, but he plays Chickie with an easy-going, short-sighted thoughtlessness that’s not the sort of thing that should capture the center of a movie. And since the film is episodic in a galloping fashion, we have more than enough time to notice several Howlers baked into it. Why, for example, do the characters, who are all from New York, speak Boston accents? I’m not joking. The whole art of accent specificity has been so lost that it sounds like the entire cast just watched a bunch of Ben Affleck movies to prepare for their roles.

Howler number two: Chickie keeps giving away the cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon he brought in his bag. He puts them in bunks, he puts them on the street, he’s like Santa from Brewskie. But after a while all I thought was: How many beers does he drink to have in that goddamn duffel bag? Did he borrow Mary Poppins’ bag? Additionally, the film makes an egregious audio error when Chickie rides in a helicopter and watches as a Vietcong soldier is being interrogated (by a real CIA agent), and the soldier is thrown from the helicopter and falls to his death… and before we can even react, the Association’s film “Cherish” plays on the soundtrack. Is that supposed to be ironic? Because it feels like the definition of unmusical.

If Chickie the beer whisperer doesn’t actually bond with his friends in ‘Nam, what is The Greatest Beer Run Ever about? I have bad news on that front: it’s about Chickie, who watched the war with enthusiasm and learned that Vietnam is the mess that the protesters said that LBJ and General Westermoreland (whom we see on TV) are lying, and that the whole system is lying. At a bar in Saigon, Chickie meets a handful of American journalists, most notably a correspondent for Look magazine, played by Russell Crowe with a deep voice. They all point him to the “public relations war” and how the US government is using it to hide the truth about Vietnam. But Chickie needs to see for herself. And out in the combat zones, he does. As he phrases it late in the film, he learns that this is unlike the chaos and carnage of World War II Poorly mayhem and carnage. So now he’s an expert! Unfortunately, that means: “The Greatest Been Run Ever is truly a lesson — about America’s lost innocence and why the war in Vietnam was a moral disaster — that none of us need to learn. The Greatest Beer Run Ever review: Zac Efron in Nam, with Beer.

Charles Jones

Charles Jones is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Charles Jones joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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