The Greatest Beer Run Ever review – Zac Efron entertainingly delivers beer to Vietnam

September 28, 2022
Eamon Hennedy 0
Apple TV+, Film Reviews, Streaming Service
3.5

Summary

Peter Farelley’s Vietnam drama offers no real surprises despite the interesting character story at the heart of it, but it benefits greatly from an engaging lead performance from Zac Efron.

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3.5

Summary

Peter Farelley’s Vietnam drama offers no real surprises despite the interesting character story at the heart of it, but it benefits greatly from an engaging lead performance from Zac Efron.

This review of Apple TV+ film The Greatest Beer Run Ever does not contain spoilers.

It’s hard not to get swept along by the narrative drive of Peter Farrelly’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever. There’s a road movie/physical emotional journey element to it that recalls his previous film Green Book, not to mention his broader comedic work on the likes of Dumb and Dumber, but where his last film went on to controversially become the Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 2019, it’s no surprise that he has once again opted to direct a follow-up that feels designed to appeal to both award voters and mainstream audiences while also exploring the dicier elements of America’s past.

Like Green Book, there are big ideas and themes running throughout so much of it that it has the aura of wanting to be an ‘important film’, but it also falls into the trap of being somewhat simplistic with how it frames those very ideas and themes. If Farrelly’s previous film was essentially, ‘oh boy, racism is bad’, then The Greatest Beer Run Ever can be boiled down to ‘oh boy, the Vietnam War sure was bad’. 

You can sense where the film is going right from the opening moments. As soon as Zac Efron’s character John ‘Chickie’ Donohue and his friends vocalize their horror at how the media is portraying the Vietnam conflict in less patriotic terms and getting into fights with anti-war protestors, it doesn’t take a degree in storytelling to tell that Chickie’s journey to the war-stricken country to deliver beer to his friends is going to see him reverse his beliefs. 

One might want to scoff cynically at the idea that all anyone needs is a tin of beer to make a war zone durable, but like Green Book, there is a comforting safe mainstream sensibility to all this that you can imagine will make the film’s darker realities that little bit more endurable even while it’s dealing with them head-on.

It never shies away from the horrors of the conflict, but it also filters them through a Zac Efron character who simply wants to deliver a few tins of lager for ‘the boys’ and whose political point of view comes to change when he sees the darker infrastructure of US foreign policy unfolding before his very eyes. 

There is some gentle humor, harsh home truths, and an emotional journey for our lead character who comes to learn that he has to make something of his life. It’s not capturing the conflict in the visceral way that filmmakers such as Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick managed, with Farrelly instead framing the conflict in broad strokes that flit from humorous to horrific. There are moments when it feels like it’s aiming for a vibe that wants to be simultaneously chilling on a political level and also profoundly observational, but it never quite hits the tone in the way other filmmakers have done so in the past. Farrelly may not be wanting to be a director of respectable awards-caliber fare, but he isn’t quite in that ballpark. 

That’s not to say this is a terrible film. At a little over two hours, it has a surprising sense of pace and benefits from Farrelly’s ability to capture the more emotional moments quite well, helped equally by a great performance from Efron and great support from Russell Crowe as a photographer that Chickie develops a friendship with in the latter stages of the story.

In the end, however, despite the themes and ideas here and the enjoyment that one can easily gain from it, The Greatest Beer Run Ever ends up saying nothing more profound other than ‘oh boy, the Vietnam War sure was bad.’

What did you think of the film The Greatest Beer Run Ever? Comment below.

You can watch this film with a subscription to Apple TV+.

Additional Reading

The Ending Explained for The Greatest Beer Run Ever

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