• Wed. May 29th, 2024


ByTaylor T Carlson

Sep 22, 2022

THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER is directed by Peter Farrelly. It stars Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, and Bill Murray. It’s based on actual events.

In 1967, Chickie Donohue is a ne’er-do-well Merchant Marine staying with his parents while on leave, amid escalating tensions in Vietnam and growing numbers of protests. Wanting to support his friends overseas who are fighting in the war, he decides to undergo the seemingly ridiculous tasks of taking beers from home over to his buddies in Vietnam, despite the intensifying escalations. Will he be able to find his friends and give them a piece of home, boosting their spirits (in every sense of the word) or will he be killed in action during this fool’s errand?

I love true stranger-than-fiction stories and American history. While I’m certainly familiar with the Vietnam War, I hadn’t heard of Chickie Donohue, as I’m guessing most people haven’t. Likewise, I hadn’t heard of BEER RUN until receiving the screening invite, but was immediately intrigued and amused with what I was reading, and was even more optimistic seeing it was in the capable hands of director Peter Farrelly, a man who’s given us everything from DUMB AND DUMBER to GREEN BOOK. How does this movie measure up? It does a decent enough job with its surprising true story, but the end results are uneven and a dragged-out third act doesn’t help the final product.

Where BEER RUN shines brightest is its leading man, played expertly by Zac Efron. Portraying a washed-up loser who’s a bit dimwitted and blind to the true nature of what’s going on in Vietnam, the young man gets a crash course in that living hell throughout the film. His chemistry with everyone in the movie is fantastic, whether he’s chatting up journalists, having reunions with his buddies now serving in the war, or genuinely fearing for his life. There couldn’t have been a better man to play this role, and his performance does a good job straddling the fine line between comedy and drama. Everyone else in the movie is one-dimensional by comparison; I should probably stress that Russell Crowe and Bill Murray only play supporting parts despite their high billing.

BEER RUN also serves up great period detail. The Vietnam landscapes are believable, from the city streets to the wildernesses plagued with ongoing battles. Even the American scenes look great and take the audience back in time. It’s topped off beautifully with a soundtrack of 60s pop tunes. Films set in the past have to look and sound like the era they’re depicting, and BEER RUN doesn’t disappoint there.

Unfortunately, the film falls short of greatness. Probably the biggest weakness is the stakes are very low for its first two acts; despite depicting the Vietnam War, what happens is relatively without consequence. When the movie starts piling on an insane amount of drama in its third act, it comes off the rails, and it quickly becomes apparent that the filmmakers have no idea how to end the movie. The two-hour-plus running time is unnecessary and excessive; had it been about 20 minutes shorter and edited more rightly, it could’ve been a superior film. Many subplots don’t amount to much, making one wonder if the film truly needed to run as long as it did.

BEER RUN has its problems. It’s uneven and wild, but then again, so was Vietnam. Despite its overlong running time, Zac Efron shines in his performance, bringing this unknown eccentric with a stranger-than-fiction story to life in the big screen. Moderately recommended when it hits streaming.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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