Peter Farrelly—[ahem] excuse me—Academy Award-winning director Peter Farrelly, the filmmaker behind Green Book and the scene in Dumb And Dumber where Jeff Daniels takes a big old shit, would like to invite you on the Greatest Beer Run Ever. Now, you might be thinking, what does the guy who wrote the line “how the hell d’you get the beans above the frank” know about beer, well, not much. But when it comes to crowd-pleasers that make white Baby Boomers feel ok about their Post-Reagan cultural heel turn, he’s Orson Welles.
And so, Farrelly brings Zac Effron and Russell Crowe together for The Greatest Beer Run Ever, a Vietnam War dramedy about a beer-guzzling nobody from New York named Chickie who makes it his bee’s wax to bring every American soldier from the neighborhood a beer. Chickie must remind them that these protestors don’t know what they’re talking about because people still care about the troops; never mind that the stories about protestors spitting on soldiers and calling them “baby killers” is a myth. But what good’s the truth when you’re making a feel-good movie about the Vietnam War, a largely feel-good event that saw 3 million casualties?
The plot is simple. Zac Effron plays the mustachio’d Chickie Donohue, a neighborhood guy just lookin’ to bring his buddies a beer. But, hey, forget about it; they’re in Vietnam. After seeing activists protest the war, Chickie pledges to deliver his boys a nice warm Pabst Blue Ribbon for their troubles. However, once he gets to Vietnam, Chickie learns that maybe war doesn’t have the chill hangout vibe he expected.
In 2017, Vietnam veteran Jerry Lembcke, author of The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, And The Legacy Of Vietnam and Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, And Fantasies of Betrayal, published an op-ed in the New York Times about the mythic “spitting protestor,” which judging by the trailer is Chickie’s inspiration for his journey. Lembcke wrote:
Many of the stories have implausible details, like returning soldiers deplaning at San Francisco Airport, where they were met by groups of spitting hippies. In fact, return flights landed at military air bases like Travis, from which protesters would have been barred. Others include claims that military authorities told them on returning flights to change into civilian clothes upon arrival lest they be attacked by protesters. Trash cans at the Los Angeles airport were piled high with abandoned uniforms, according to one eyewitness, a sight that would surely have been documented by news photographers — if it had existed.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever reunites Farrelly with his Kingpin and Osmosis Jones star Bill Murray, who plays a surly but encouraging bartender. The movie also boasts Russell Crowe, and it’s just exciting to see him in another comedy, even if this one doesn’t look remotely as funny or cutting as The Nice Guys. All we need to know now is how many times “Fortunate Son” plays in this movie.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever hits theaters and Apple TV+ on September 30.