‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ has three different stories happening simultaneously.
On one hand, you have a quirky true story of a guy looking to support his troops by going into a Vietnam war zone in order to give them all beer. On the flip side, you have the story of a politically divided country during the time of the Vietnam war. Finally, you have the dramatic storytelling of dealing with said war.
Three narratives happening at the same time is why ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ doesn’t reach the true potential that the premise lays out.
The film stars Zac Efron as Former Marine John “Chickie” Donohue. Chickie Is a burnout who’s wasting his life away drinking with his friends at a local bar. Chickie’s family is divided on the ongoing Vietnam War with his sister vehemently opposed to war while Chickie wants to do everything in his power to support the troops fighting overseas.
Frustrated with his own media not providing enough support for the troops in the United States, he gets the ridiculous idea after a night of drinking to fly all the way to Vietnam with a stock full of beer to deliver to the Troops in the front line. Chickie is able to gain access to numerous military depots based on the lie that he’s actually a CIA agent. The deeper into the Battle Zone Chickie gets, the more he realizes that the politics of the war are a lot more complicated than he originally thought.
The Vietnam War has been a topic of political debate and the subject of various forms of political propaganda ever since the 1960s. Liberal Hollywood has long since taken the stance that Vietnam was an unjust war that we should have never fought, a take that is about as nuanced as the claim that we saved the world in World War 2. Their objection to Vietnam is always given without the context that multiple Democrat presidents such as John F Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson played a massive role in keeping Vietnam running.
Vietnam is also a sore spot for certain progressives due to their objection that any War against communism is unjust. For as long as progressives have been demonizing America for the sins of Vietnam, Neoconservatives on the right have used wars and the bloodshed attached to them to embolden the industrial-military complex for several generations.
What does any of this have to do with the film? ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ tries to find a moral middle ground between both sides of the conflict, those blinded by either patriotism or marxism.
Peter Farrelly handles the tone of this movie similar to the film “The Green Book”. With war being the backdrop of the movie, the film focuses on the character of Chickie who is looking for purpose and is looking for a way to be meaningful for those in his life.
As all his friends around him are fighting for their lives in war, Chickie wants to put his money where his mouth is and actually make a difference in the world. While his plan is simple-minded, it is his intentions that make him an endearing character. Zac Efron is a stellar lead who has proven multiple times over the last few years to have the ability to lead a character-driven movie.
The biggest flaw of the film is the balance in its tone. The film tries to be a little bit of everything by finding it’s the true focus which is the story of John “Chickie” Donohue. ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ is a good film that is still a missed opportunity to be something better.