All images courtesy of APPLETV+
Four years after switching gears from comedy to drama and winning an Oscar, director Peter Farrelly stays in the drama field for his latest fact-based film, The Greatest Beer Run Ever from AppleTv+. To show support for his neighborhood friends serving in Vietnam, Chickie Donohue (Zac Efron) decides to do something totally outrageous: travel to the frontline by himself to bring the soldiers a little piece of home -- their favorite can of American beer. However, what started as a well-meaning journey quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime as Chickie confronts the reality of this controversial war and his reunions with his childhood buddies thrust him into the complexities and responsibilities of adulthood.
I have to admit, from the title alone, I initially thought the film was a raucous comedy. I hadn't seen the trailer; honestly, the movie wasn't even on my radar. Nevertheless, when I walked into my local Regal Cinema on Monday, September 26th, to attend their mystery movie Monday promotion, I had no idea this would be the film they showed.
Zac Efron has always had a screen presence. I never watched him in the High School Musical films since I wasn't in the demographic. However, when I saw him in the 2007 remake of Hairspray and later roles like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, The Paperboy, and The Greatest Showman, something dawned on me. Like Luke Perry, Efron was a character actor in a teen idol's body. Efron could've easily taken every safe role thrown his way and got by on his looks, but he does take chances, and I respect that.
One of the first things you will notice about Efron in the film is the porn star mustache he's rocking. It took me about 35 minutes to get used to the stache. Early on, the film shows us that Chickie is a lovable loser. He spends his day at the local watering hole, drinking with his buddies and listening to the wisdom of the Colonel (Bill Murray). At home, he bumps heads with his sister, whose against the war.
After hearing the news that one of his friends lost his life in combat, another is missing in action. , Chickie figures, we should show our boys we care by showing up in Vietnam and giving them an ice-cold beer. The people closest to him express disbelief that knucklehead Chickie could accomplish such a feat. The doubt inspires Chickie, and thus our plot is set in motion.
Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie, and Pete Jones's script for The Greatest Beer Run Ever uses the plot templates of the quest mixed with voyage and return. The protagonist (Chickie) sets out to get to a location (Vietnam). They face temptations and other obstacles along the way. In addition, when they return from their voyage, they are changed.
Sonically this creates a problem in the narrative for The Greatest Beer Run Ever, as the director's tone doesn't always come together. The film starts to film overlong, and Efron's charm can only go far. Russell Crowe, who has second billing in the movie, also seems a bit out of place. The scenes Efron has with Crowe are the best in the movie. Thus the bulk of the film should have focused on their time together in the Nam.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever isn't a terrible movie, nor will it find a slot in my worst of 2022. Despite another solid turn from Zac Efron, the pacing and script, like some beers, fall flat.
Final Grade: C
The Greatest Beer Run Ever is available to stream on AppleTv + this Friday.