The Greatest Beer Run Ever Review

The Greatest Beer Run Ever was reviewed at TIFF 2022

PLOT: In 1967 New York, Chickie Donohue (Zac Efron) is a merchant seaman frustrated by the negative attitude towards soldiers serving in Vietnam. At the urging of his favourite bartender, The Colonel (Bill Murray), Chickie travels to Vietnam to pass out beers among all his old friends serving in the war. Once he gets there, his eyes are opened, and his naive view of the war quickly changes.

REVIEW: Director Peter Farrelly is having one heck of a second act regarding his career. Often pigeonholed as a comedy director (with his brother Bobby), Green Book, which controversially won Best Picture at the Oscars, showed there was much more to him than meets the eye. He now specializes in a type of movie that’s become all too rare, the middle-of-the-road “feel good” movie. The Greatest Beer Run Ever is based on a wildly implausible true story (read about it here) and, like Green Book, tackles the weighty subject matter with good humour. His movies aren’t always fashionable among critics, but they’re entertaining and undeniably well-made.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever doesn’t deliver anything you haven’t seen before if you know your Vietnam movies, but the story is interesting, and Zac Efron is terrific in a lead role that seems tailor-made. He plays the kind of good-time buddy we all grew up with – the guy who never really took things seriously and just wanted to have a good time in life. Like many of these guys, Chickie is blessed with copious amounts of luck, with his little tourist trip to Nam landing him a front seat at the Battle of Khe Sanh and later the Tet Offensive. The movie explains his ease getting around Nam because he’s constantly mistaken for a C.I.A. agent, and Efron plays Chickie with this wild self-confidence and swagger that makes it all somewhat believable.

Efron’s been showing his stuff in recent years, with Gold proving he’s a solid leading man with movie star charisma. People don’t take him seriously because of his looks, but Chickie is a perfect part for him. He plays the character as not too bright, and Farrelly concedes to his mission’s idiocy by making most of the men annoyed with his hare-brained scheme. One of them, Rick (Jake Picking), gets stuck babysitting him and gives him a taste of combat at Khe San.

Farrelly does have a point to make about how Chickie and his pals (especially Bill Murray’s swaggering bartender) are ignorant early on to the reality of Nam, making fun of Chickie’s sister (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis – Andy’s daughter) for being anti-war. As Farrelly said in his opening remarks to the film, the truth ultimately leads us to a middle ground, which indeed happens to Chickie as his eyes are opened. Some episodes, such as him witnessing a C.I.A. sanctioned murder, feel invented and could have been excised from the slightly bloated running time. Still, the film moves at a solid pace, with Russell Crowe having a really good part as a cyclical war correspondent he meets in Saigon and who becomes his companion during Tet. There’s also a touching part of the movie where the good-natured Chickie befriends a South Vietnamese crossing guard, which helps drive home the fact that even if he is hopelessly naive, Chickie is essentially a kind, non-hateful man.

Critics will predictably be tough on The Greatest Beer Run Ever for its simplicity and the fact that it’s a bit old-fashioned, but the straightforwardness of the movie is charming. As always, Farrelly knows how to build a film around his leading men, with Efron and Crowe better served here than they have been in years (Bill Murray’s role – despite his billing – is little more than a cameo). When it hits Apple TV+, it should be a crowd pleaser.

7

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The Greatest Beer Run Ever Review

The Greatest Beer Run Ever was reviewed at TIFF 2022

PLOT: In 1967 New York, Chickie Donohue (Zac Efron) is a merchant seaman frustrated by the negative attitude towards soldiers serving in Vietnam. At the urging of his favourite bartender, The Colonel (Bill Murray), Chickie travels to Vietnam to pass out beers among all his old friends serving in the war. Once he gets there, his eyes are opened, and his naive view of the war quickly changes.

REVIEW: Director Peter Farrelly is having one heck of a second act regarding his career. Often pigeonholed as a comedy director (with his brother Bobby), Green Book, which controversially won Best Picture at the Oscars, showed there was much more to him than meets the eye. He now specializes in a type of movie that’s become all too rare, the middle-of-the-road “feel good” movie. The Greatest Beer Run Ever is based on a wildly implausible true story (read about it here) and, like Green Book, tackles the weighty subject matter with good humour. His movies aren’t always fashionable among critics, but they’re entertaining and undeniably well-made.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever doesn’t deliver anything you haven’t seen before if you know your Vietnam movies, but the story is interesting, and Zac Efron is terrific in a lead role that seems tailor-made. He plays the kind of good-time buddy we all grew up with – the guy who never really took things seriously and just wanted to have a good time in life. Like many of these guys, Chickie is blessed with copious amounts of luck, with his little tourist trip to Nam landing him a front seat at the Battle of Khe Sanh and later the Tet Offensive. The movie explains his ease getting around Nam because he’s constantly mistaken for a C.I.A. agent, and Efron plays Chickie with this wild self-confidence and swagger that makes it all somewhat believable.

Efron’s been showing his stuff in recent years, with Gold proving he’s a solid leading man with movie star charisma. People don’t take him seriously because of his looks, but Chickie is a perfect part for him. He plays the character as not too bright, and Farrelly concedes to his mission’s idiocy by making most of the men annoyed with his hare-brained scheme. One of them, Rick (Jake Picking), gets stuck babysitting him and gives him a taste of combat at Khe San.

Farrelly does have a point to make about how Chickie and his pals (especially Bill Murray’s swaggering bartender) are ignorant early on to the reality of Nam, making fun of Chickie’s sister (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis – Andy’s daughter) for being anti-war. As Farrelly said in his opening remarks to the film, the truth ultimately leads us to a middle ground, which indeed happens to Chickie as his eyes are opened. Some episodes, such as him witnessing a C.I.A. sanctioned murder, feel invented and could have been excised from the slightly bloated running time. Still, the film moves at a solid pace, with Russell Crowe having a really good part as a cyclical war correspondent he meets in Saigon and who becomes his companion during Tet. There’s also a touching part of the movie where the good-natured Chickie befriends a South Vietnamese crossing guard, which helps drive home the fact that even if he is hopelessly naive, Chickie is essentially a kind, non-hateful man.

Critics will predictably be tough on The Greatest Beer Run Ever for its simplicity and the fact that it’s a bit old-fashioned, but the straightforwardness of the movie is charming. As always, Farrelly knows how to build a film around his leading men, with Efron and Crowe better served here than they have been in years (Bill Murray’s role – despite his billing – is little more than a cameo). When it hits Apple TV+, it should be a crowd pleaser.

7

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