Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Distributed by: AppleTV+
Written by Alexander Reams
After stirring up controversy with his crowd-pleasing, yet relatively simple “Green Book” furthered by the awards recognition it received, Peter Farrelly has returned from a 4-year hiatus with another true story. Following the story of fledgling Marine vet John “Chickie” Donohue as he gets involved with the Vietnam war in a highly comedic, and very unexpected way–bringing beer to his neighborhood buddies. All it took was one of his friends drunkenly saying it, and Chickie takes it as scripture. It’s the latest entry in a trend of “crazy but true” stories that have captivated Hollywood for decades. Farrelly’s last film got bogged down in controversy, so the logical next step was to make a movie about one of the most controversial times in modern American history.
Chickie’s journey to Vietnam involves leaving behind a tumultuous family life, a failed military career, fledgling jobs, and all he has are his buddies and his beer. A “bro story” in every sense of the word. Once Chickie does land in Vietnam Farrelly leans on the “fish out of water” trope to hold up the story until Chickie starts to see the war. These sequences are few and far between and are not the main focus of the story but are nice vignettes that show off Farrelly’s skillful cinematographer Sean Porter. Farrelly has entered into a new style of filmmaking, and for most audience viewers this traditionalist way of making films isn’t enough anymore, there has to be more below the surface and Farrelly has always struggled with that, and “Beer Run” is no exception. Casting Zac Efron as Donohue was an interesting choice, given his recent work in films like “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” “Firestarter,” and “Gold.” Like those films, he brings a starry-eyed view to serious plots, this was suitable but Efron always seemed out of place with the other performers.
Here it works as Farrelly brings that view to the film and we see that viewpoint fade away over the course of Chickie’s journey through Vietnam and his meeting with Russell Crowe’s Arthur Coates. A photographer trying to–stop me if you’ve heard this one before–show the truth of the Vietnam War because the people deserve to know, and that’s not just his backstory, that’s dialogue from the film. Farrelly never was a subtle filmmaker but he’s at his most pervasive here. Whether adapting Donohue’s story was the right choice can be left up to the viewer, but after “Green Book” this strange film might be the best next step for Farrelly, and unfortunately, that’s not saying much.
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” Trailer