THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER: 3 STARS. “a Vietnam War movie with a twist.”
Heartwarming is not a word often used to describe movies based on the Vietnam War, but “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” is no “The Deer Hunter,” “Platoon” or “Apocalypse Now.” It’s an occasionally glib, often naïve movie that studies the timely issue of the gap between the press and the public, and the horrors of war.
“Green Book” director Peter Farrelly presents another hard-to-believe-it’s-true story set during the height of the Vietnam War in 1967.
Zac Efron plays an aimless, but well-meaning Merchant Marine named John “Chickie” Donohue, a playful patriot who accepts a dare from the guys at his local NYC bar to track down his army buddies in Vietnam and deliver good old American beer to them as a thanks for their service.
“It’s not going to be easy,” he says, “but I’m going to show them that this country is still behind them.”
With a duffle bag full of Pabst Blue Ribbon, he makes his way into the heart of the conflict, hanging out with hardnosed war correspondents like Arthur Coates (Russell Crowe) and getting in over his head, but nonetheless, handing out “sudsy thank you cards” to soldiers on the front lines.
At the heart of the film is Efron in his meatiest role in years. His eager performances matches the tone of the film. He’s a charismatic actor who plays up Chickie’s good-natured, guileless side. Even as the weight of the war bears down on him, he’s still tossing chilly PBRs to his buds with a grin. He’s fine, but his trip to Vietnam feels more like a goofy—but dangerous— adventure and not a serious journey of self-discovery. He does find his way to a new understanding of the world, but the movie meanders along the way to revealing his enlightenment.
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” is a Vietnam War movie with a twist. A story of loyalty and friendship, it comes with good intentions, even if it leans into its crowd-pleasing aspects a little too heavily.