The Greatest Beer Run Ever Parent Guide
Based on an outlandish true story, this film somehow fails to feel real.
Parent Movie Review
Ever since he finished a quiet stint in the Marine Corps, John “Chickie” Donohue (Zac Efron) has spent his nights getting drunk in the local pub, and his days recovering, a lifestyle he funds with occasional work as a merchant seaman. Now that the Vietnam War has escalated and body bags are coming home to the neighborhood, Chickie is losing childhood friends. The evening news warns of worse to come and protesters in the streets condemn the war.
Determined to inject some positivity into the community and give a boost to soldiers overseas, Chickie does something genuinely crazy: He decides to hand deliver beer to the neighborhood boys on the front lines. To achieve this goal, Chickie takes work on a merchant ship taking ammunition to Vietnam and brings along a few cases of beer for the guys. He gets lucky and finds Tommy Collins (Archie Renaux) right off the boat, working as an MP on the docks – but the other neighborhood guys are scattered across the country, and heavy fighting makes travel difficult, if not impossible, for non-military individuals. So Chickie improvises…and gets himself into a world of trouble, one which will radically affect his simple opinions about America’s role in Vietnam.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever is based on an outlandish true story, but it somehow never manages to feel real. Most characters are bit players, and the only person who gets any real attention or development is Chickie himself – and while Zac Efron certainly manages to play the simplistic young party guy, he never sells the more serious moments. I kept waiting for a punchline. His New York accent is similarly in and out, and its surprise reappearance in a scene can be distracting.
The movie tries to unpack some of the moral complexity and political and military realities of America’s involvement in Vietnam, and it certainly exposes its protagonist to some gritty facts about the war, but it feels a touch underdeveloped. Apart from pointing out that bombing villages, massacring civilians, and throwing prisoners out of helicopters for interrogation are horrifying, it doesn’t delve much deeper than that. Yes, those war crimes are appalling, but I wish the film had gone poking a little deeper into some of the reasons for America’s determined and doomed presence in southeast Asia.
As you might expect, both from the title and the setting, this movie isn’t suitable entertainment for underage viewers. Frequent drinking aside, there are some scenes of graphic violence and a good deal of profanity. The Greatest Beer Run Ever might be an incredible personal story, but the transition to film seems to have left it lacking in both character and complexity – but maybe I’m asking too much from a beer run.Directed by Peter Farrelly. Starring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Bill Murray. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release September 30, 2022. Updated September 29, 2022
The Greatest Beer Run Ever
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Greatest Beer Run Ever rated R? The Greatest Beer Run Ever is rated R by the MPAA for language and some war violence.
Violence: Individuals are injured in a fistfight. People are killed and dismembered in explosions. Dead bodies, including children, are seen. Individuals are shot and killed. Animals are seen with severe burns.
Sexual Content: There is a brief reference to sexually transmitted infections.
Profanity: There are six sexual expletives and 49 scatological terms, as well as frequent mild cursing and terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking socially and smoking tobacco. A background character is briefly seen smoking marijuana.
Page last updated September 29, 2022
The Greatest Beer Run Ever Parents' Guide
What explanation did the American government initially give for being involved in Vietnam? How did the rationale change over time and different administrations? How many American soldiers were killed in Vietnam? How many Vietnamese soldiers and civilians were killed? What other countries were affected, directly or indirectly, by the American presence? How did the conflict affect America domestically? Were any lives lost on the home front related to the war?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
The whole story is told in The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War by John “Chick” Donohue and J.T. Molloy.