The biggest beer race in history2022.
Directed by Peter Farrelly.
Starring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Kyle Allen, Bill Murray, Jake Picking, Will Ropp, Archie Renaux, Ruby Ashbourne Serkis, Will Hochman, Christopher Reed Brown, Joe Adler, MacGregor Arney, Hal Cumpston, Kristin Carey, Paul Adelstein, Matt Cook, Shirleyann Kaladjian, Omari K. Chancellor, Brian Jarvis, Kelvin Delgado, James Fahselt, Mike Hatton, and Kevin Tran.
The story of a man who left New York in 1967 to bring beer to his childhood friends in the Army while they were fighting in Vietnam.
We’ve all met someone like John “Chickie” Donohue (Zac Efron), the directionless, contented twentysomething alcoholic who works in downtown The biggest beer race in history (another true story from the film by Oscar winner Peter Farrelly) Green Book follow-up, once again co-written with Brian Hayes Currie, this time with Pete Jones in the mix). When not working on ships overseas, Chickie stays with her parents while drinking every night with her friends (most of whom exist for comic relief), hearing stories of America’s first pro-war bartender nicknamed The Colonel for his time serving World. War II (played by Bill Murray) justifying the conflict in Vietnam.
Chickie grew up in a jingoistic neighborhood of New York, America first and the notion that the country can do no wrong. Even in a complicated conflict like the Vietnam War, which is much less black and white, he is quick to shut down the opposing views of his sister Christine (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis) who protests and dismisses negative media reports as one-sided and demoralizing for everyone back home. In other words, she’s truthful and hits too close to home, especially for those who can’t bear to see an uglier side of America.
Chickie is more or less involved with a rowdy, immature group that perceives war as exciting, logical, honorable, and great (and to be clear, it’s honorable to serve one’s country). This contrasts amusingly with the Colonel’s view that the horrors of war should be kept off television screens, dismantling that propagandistic narrative. However, if television screens aren’t enough to convince an overly patriotic chump like Chickie that a war zone is a dangerous and psychologically destabilizing place, perhaps putting yourself in the line of fire will serve as a wake-up call.
That doesn’t mean Chickie is going to enlist (although she has done some non-combat duty); no, while he’s downing several beers, he comes up with the pointless and stupid idea of having a beer race for the neighborhood soldiers still in the middle, many of whom are his friends and some of whom already Have they died. It’s his way of countering negative publicity and boosting morale.
The beer run is wrong and dumb, but it comes from the heart. Loved ones of the young soldiers flock to Chickie with encouragement and items to deliver, suggesting that this reckless danger goes beyond alcohol and is a sincere and noble gesture. Chickie’s best friend Tommy (Will Hochman) is also said to be missing. Clumsily constructed flashbacks (doing nothing to enrich this bond of emotional friendship) reveal that Chickie is responsible for Tommy enlisting, for which he also feels some guilt, which could be his true purpose for making the trip. .
Through good fortune, Chickie finds a job aboard a ship headed for Saigon, which comes to serve as her closest hub of operations to the combat where her friends are fighting. While there, he meets several war correspondents covering the situation, including Russell Crowe’s photographer Coates, who tries to break with the fact that publishing the hard truth is the true way to support the troops. Naturally, the stubborn and narrow-minded Chickie doesn’t want to hear any of it, and goes ahead to convince anyone willing to bring him closer to danger.
Not even civilians, let alone the press, have access there, but that’s okay, as Chickie accidentally gets lucky enough to become an undercover CIA agent, cleared to go anywhere. It’s a recurring joke that, regardless of whether it happened in real life, is presented here in an overly jocular style, especially since real CIA agents are torturing Vietnamese civilians.
The biggest beer race in history it’s meant to break Chickie’s blind American allegiance bit by bit, but it’s too syrupy, emotionally manipulative (there’s a scene involving a Saigon traffic warden who is incredibly cheesy), or lighthearted to address any of these conventional themes properly. Even as the film inevitably takes a graphically violent turn, Zac Efron doesn’t exactly excel at convincingly reacting to these horrors. If anything, he proves Peter Farrelly’s tone to be a confused mess.
It can also be reasonably argued that a movie called The biggest beer race in history deserves a carefree, fun twist (and there’s a fantastic gag involving elephant dung). But that’s also called into question, considering most of Chickie’s friends aren’t thrilled to see him and certainly don’t want beers, especially when every reckless decision puts them in jeopardy (who the hell can blame them?). Then there are the subplots, like the CIA looking to capture Chickie, which are unceremoniously dismissed.
Zac Efron is an underrated actor with the goofy charm and dramatic chops to make the broad outlines of the character’s journey believable, but The biggest beer race in history is drunk running. It is a series of sequences in which Peter Farrelly calls for unity between family members, citizens and the press, and ethnicities that are worthwhile but vapid and sentimental. He’s about as satisfying as receiving a hot, nasty beer from a well-intentioned jerk trying to survive on the front lines of a war probably was.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]