Peter Farrelly is coming off of a Best Picture Academy Award win in 2019 with his last film Green Book. So people have been eagerly awaiting his follow-up film after that win from a couple of years ago. A lot has happened since then but one thing still remains, the Farrelly Brothers still know how to make an enjoyable film. Once again this is just Peter who directed The Greatest Beer Run Ever, not the Farrelly Brothers. The directing duo behind Shallow Hal, Dumb and Dumber, and Their’s Something About Mary.
John “Chickie” Donohue (Zack Efron) is a happy-go-lucky guy who likes to go out drinking with his buddies in New York City back in the late 1960s. During the time of the Vietnam War. He lives at home with his parents and sister so he doesn’t have much to worry about. He gets talking with his friends and the bartender (Bill Murray) of the bar he frequents one night and they start to discuss what they can do to help the troops overseas fighting for their country during the Vietnam War. On a whim, he decides he should bring his friends from the neighborhood bees as a way to show them an appreciation for what they are doing for their country.
What he finds when he gets to Vietnam is a little less than what he had expected. Not actually knowing what to expect when he got there was a bit of a culture shock to him. Basically, he isn’t welcomed by his comrades who he calls his neighbors and or childhood friends he grew up with when he was younger. He still has a mission and he is determined to fulfill that mission no matter what he has to do. That includes getting caught up into war-ravaged scenarios with American soldiers. More than what he ever could have expected when he decided to go to Vietnam in the first place. This hair-rained idea might actually get him killed.
Along the way, Efron’s character runs into some interesting people on his journey to deliver beer to his friends. He meets a fellow soldier who facilitates him with some transportation at a couple of junctures in the film Lt. Habershaw (Matt Cook) and a group of reporters from various countries. One who takes a liking to him despite at first not liking him is Coates (Russell Crowe). He is a veteran of warfare in regards to reporting on it for years. He takes Efron’s character under his wing at one point in the film. He learns about the hardships of war from Crowe’s character.
Farrelly uses a tongue-in-cheek way to tell this story because lets be honest, it’s quite a story, to say the least. So he and the writers use a comedic approach to this fantastical story. Even though it is a true story it’s a bit much to believe. There is one joke that runs the length of the film and it’s pretty funny every time it gets used. And that is nobody can believe he is going to this God-forsaken country to deliver beers to his friends when he doesn’t need to go there. It’s a very funny situation, to say the least. Despite that, the film is a little lighthearted considering the circumstances the story takes place in. This is the Farrelly brother’s style though. They take serious situations and make light of them.
The one message the script and overall story keeps hitting home though is that war is bad no matter how you look at it. Not without consideration, the Vietnam War wasn’t one of the United States’ best moments so this is like hitting home a home run by a major league player from a little league pitcher, a no-brainer. It’s an obvious choice to use this story to hammer home that war is bad. The film despite that wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t, to use a war analogy, anything to write home about. The war scenes were a bit generic and the rest was just fine. It was Efron’s character’s journey that made this film worth watching and his performance of this naive character. He came full circle in his journey.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever is on Apple TV Plus this week and as such, I’d say it’s worth giving a watch. If not for anything else, Efron’s performance. The lighthearted nature of the film notwithstanding is fine. It’s not the best film about war or the Vietnam War there has ever been but it is an ok film. The message is very in your face but that’s to be expected from a Farrelly film. They don’t usually make subtle films. If Green Book as an example has anything to say about that you should never underestimate the Farrelly Brothers. In this case, Peter once again delivers.
Dan Skip Allen