In what is shockingly based on a true story, The Greatest Beer Run Ever can essentially be broken down to one sentence: a jokester bro spreads peace, love, and most importantly, American beer to various soldiers around Vietnam to help keep up their spirits deep into the War. Mainly, the film is a dramedy, but also sprinkles in war for maximum impact. The script from director Peter Farrelly, Pete Jones, Brian Hayes Currie, Joanna Molloy, John Donohue feels overwritten and a tad too long. Yet, I found myself falling in love with the simple charms brought by Zac Efron’s performance, alongside a league of other hyper-cute actors that pop up in smaller doses.
Set in 1967 Inwood, New York City, The Greatest Beer Run Ever follows Chickie (Efron), who sleeps all day and is a major procrastinator. He never seems to finish anything he starts, and owes expensive bar tabs at numerous establishments. As the death tolls increases during the Vietnam War, Chickie hatches up an intriguing plan: pay thanks to all the troops by hand-delivering them a warm American beer! Nobody expects Chickie to follow through with any of it; once Chickie makes his intentions known, the families around town give him various items to deliver, like one pair of socks, or the repayment of poker losses.
Obviously, Chickie’s little drunk-idea in theory is very different in execution when fully sober. Either way, he does actually follow through by embarking on an eventful journey into the unknown. He gets approved for leave from work, but must be back in 72 hours! Some people think he is C.I.A., but almost everyone treats him with respect when they learn of his mission. Keeping the spirit light amongst the death is a seemingly dull but important job. Yes, Chickie makes some awful, potentially disastrous choices throughout the movie that endanger far too many people. However, he is attempting something noble that allows him to feel he has a purpose during an unthinkable time in human history. This wasn’t part of his life plan—Chickie still embraces being even a minor part of something larger.
Those laughing at the fact that The Greatest Beer Run Ever borders on propaganda aren’t too far off, but it does have a charm to it that I began to enjoy as it went on. Peter Farrelly’s comedic expertise in movies like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary helped pave the way for making it fit seamlessly aside the darker subject matter. We go to disturbing places, and the narrative is not afraid to meet its crescendo head-on. The acting is particularly strong, too, with standouts being Jake Picking and Kyle Allen among the supporting roles and Zac Efron and Russell Crowe as the mains. Unlikely to offend anyone, The Greatest Beer Run Ever is hilarious at times, and mostly stays an entertaining darkly comic look at the true horrors of war.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever pops open a cold one when it debuts in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on Friday, September 30th.