The Apple TV+ original film debuts on the streamer this Friday.
It feels like Zac Efron has been on the verge of film stardom for quite some time. We’ve seen him show his talents in film post-High School Musical, including the two Neighbors films and the musical smash hit The Greatest Showman. There’s something about Efron’s presence on screen, whether it’s the charm or range, that makes him such a likeable actor. And as such, he’s ready to take that next step in Hollywood. While The Greatest Beer Run Ever may not be the good-hearted awards player its story has the makings of, it is a showcase of what’s to come from Efron when he is front and center.
Based on an incredible true story, The Greatest Beer Run Ever chronicles the adventures of “Chickie” Donohue (Efron) as he goes to Vietnam during the height of the war to deliver beer to his friends serving there. What seemingly starts as a joke with his friends at a local bar run by The Colonel (Bill Murray), “Chickie,” becomes known in his local New York neighborhood by friends and family who want him to deliver messages/gifts to their boys in combat. With that, and tons of canned beer in a large duffel bag, “Chickie” travels to Vietnam in hopes of sneaking into warzones to deliver the goods to his friends.
The film takes a bit to find its footing, especially in the first half hour, but once “Chickie” begins traveling to Vietnam, it picks up steam. It also takes some time finding the right balance between drama and comedy, but eventually finds the proper mix between focusing on the hilarity of sneaking into warzones to deliver beer and the drama associated with war being hell. It’s easy to see how a film of this nature and its story could have been in the awards conversation between now and early next year given better editing and a more polished script. But one thing director Peter Farrelly does well is presenting the public’s perception versus the media’s perspective of events. This, perhaps, is a foreshadowing of the way things currently stand, where the divide between the public and the media seemingly never has been wider. That all comes to a head in the film’s strong final act, which delivers a clear message that any viewer can take with them once the credits roll.
In what is arguably his biggest role to date, Zac Efron also delivers his best-to-date on-screen performance. While the film may drag from time to time, Efron keeps things entertaining, thanks to his presence on screen. Whether it’s funny or dramatic, Efron shows his range in this film, giving the most in what otherwise could have been a vanilla performance with anyone else in the role. In much smaller appearances, Bill Murray is solid, as usual as the bar owner. And Russell Crowe, who doesn’t have much of a presence until the back half of the film, adds a nice niche to the overall story presented here.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever might come and go quickly, but it’s a must-see on Apple TV+ (or theaters, if playing near you) for Zac Efron’s performance alone. Years from now we might look back on this film as the moment Efron took the next big step toward being a leading man in Hollywood. And at age 34, Efron has the whole his film world ahead of him–though he might not be carrying beer on his shoulder the rest of the way.