Currently streaming on Apple+ from writer-director Peter Farrelly from the book of the same name by Joanna Molloy and John “Chickie” Donohue comes THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER.
John “Chickie” Donohue (Zac Efron) is living in 1967 as the war in Vietnam rages on. At home in New York, he is out with friends drinking at their favorite watering hole owned by The Colonel (Bill Murray). While drinking and talking about the funerals they are attending, it is suggested that someone needs to take the hometown boys a beer and Chickie volunteers!
That is until people in town approach him wanting things to be taken to the town’s boys and mothers wanting to make sure their sons had clean socks. Everyone is about supporting the trip. Everyone but sister Christine (Ruby Serkis) who protests the war and thinks her brother has lost his mind.
Yet, Chickie packs up his duffle bags with beer and finds a flight leaving for Vietnam and off he goes. From post to post he finds his friends offering them a beer. Some are shocked to see Chickie showing up in a place he doesn’t belong while others believe ‘well, that’s Chickie for ya’ and drink up. Jake Duggan (Jake Picking), Bobby Pappas (Kyle Allen), Tommy Collins (Archie Renaux) and Kevin McLoone (Will Ropp) try to keep Chickie safe until he can find a flight home.
Chickie even makes friends with Hieu (Kevin K. Tran), a police officer who wants to go to Oklahoma when the war is over but for now directs traffic and helps lost Americans. After tracking down a few of his friends, things start to become more and more dangerous. At the local bar, there are reporters who do not believe what Chickie is doing but journalist Arthur Coates (Russell Crowe) does.
As the Vietnamese New Year begins, so does a major offensive as the two men try to steer clear of the attack. Chickie thought he had seen the worse until driving through the streets of mass casualties and death. Boarding his flight home and returning to the local watering hole, Chickie comes to terms with the swiftness of death and what needs to be done with his life.
Efron as Chickie is a man who sort of lives moment to moment which seems to get on everyone’s nerves. Seen as a man with no goals nor driven to find any, Efron’s Chickie decides that the talk around town means he has to do something. So, he packs up a duffle of beer and heads to Vietnam for an eight-week beer run. What I like about this character for Efron is the believability, I went for every step hook-line and sinker.
Picking, Allen, Renaux and Ropp are fantastic supporting characters and I mean that in a grand way. They are on their own journeys through something indescribable in the way of war and dealing with a friend like Chickie was not in the orders. Yet, they introduced him to their world of Vietnam, accepted the craziness of their friend and came to truly believe he meant well. That’s being a supportive friend and character in a film. Well done boys!
Crowe is a late added bonus who comes to see that Chickie is not only a crazy individual for coming to a place he doesn’t need to be, but also sees his heart is in the right place even if his brain isn’t. Serkis as Christine is a sister who sees a brother the way any sister would. She is a force to be reckoned with and brother Chickie, well, isn’t and she has no trouble saying so.
Tran as officer Hieu just had my heart from the beginning. He showed no fear or bad emotion towards the American Chickie but instead, honest friendship. I just adored it.
I just love when Bill Murray pops up in a film and although his role is not a big one, listen to what his character says. He sees the world from his own experience with war but needs to understand, wars change as the weapons become more destructive. The Colonel is a part of their town, he is the grand master of serving up beer.
Other cast includes Will Hochman as Tommy, Matt Cook as Lt. Habershaw, Christopher Brown as Noodle, Joe Adler as Red, Macgregor Arney as Brendon, Hal Cumpston as Leary, Omari Chancellor as Erickson and Goya Robles as Almeida.
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THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER is a charming, funny and heartbreaking film from start to finish. Efron gives us every bit of his trip and does not sugar coat the harshness of war, not even from Chickie. From friend to friend, this character has the nerve shattering experience of survival and what those costs are the end.
Although the title of the film and its beginning have moments of comedy, the reality of what Chickie is about to do slowly comes in frame after frame. From the chopper rides, to elephants in the jungle, to knowing its time to go home – this beer run is about so much more than Chickie could have possibly imagined.
I love that Chickie, after being told to do something with his life, actually did so much. He attended Harvard School of Government and was one of ‘Sandhog’ tunnel builders in New York and even went on to become a leader. What I love even more is what you see at the end of the film so watch for that.
In the end – it is a true story of a life changing beer run!