There are a lot of various movie genres that have gotten stale in our increasingly unoriginal, creativity-free entertainment world. Superhero movies have been chasing their own tails since Avengers Endgame. Despite Tom Cruise doing his level best, your spy/action thrillers are repetitively hitting the same notes, like that "the person you trusted turns out to be working for the other side" cliche that comes 15 minutes before the closing credits and stopped qualifying as a plot twist about 100 Red Notices ago. I don't watch kids movies the way I was in the early 2000s, due to my lack of kids who need to be entertained. But they all look like they're all being churned out by the same assembly line. Plucky child/animal of some sort has hopes and dreams that nobody encourages, but with the help of an eccentric sidekick and an obligatory fart joke (to avoid a G-rating), goes on an adventure that ends in growing and learning. With a happy ending that sets up the sequel.
And to me, no subgenre has gotten more bogged down in the cliche weeds than the Vietnam War Era movie. Even though there are some great ones, everyone has been operating off their template for decades now. They all have to have the hippie protest scene. The pot scene. The Woodstock montage. The soundtrack that includes Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" (There's something hap-penin' heeere ...), Creedence's "Fortunate Son," the Youngblood's "Get Together," and so on. I've felt like since at least Forrest Gump, there have been original stories to tell, but Hollywood quit trying.
Until now. Until The Greatest Beer Run Ever.
Tell me there's a movie directed by one of the Farrelly Brothers (Peter, who won the Oscar for Green Book), with Bill Murray, Russell Crowe and Zac Efron, and I'm making plans to watch it before you tell me what it's about. Then when I find out it's a true story about a retired Marine sneaking into the middle of the Vietnam War to on a mission to deliver beers to U.S. fighting men, just to let them know they've not been forgotten by their country? Clear my calendar and power down my phone. I'm all the way in.
The movie is based on a book of the same name, written by the Zac Efron character. Here's the synopsis on Amazon:
One night in 1967, twenty-six-year-old John Donohue—known as Chick—was out with friends, drinking in a New York City bar. The friends gathered there had lost loved ones in Vietnam. Now, they watched as anti-war protesters turned on the troops themselves.
One neighborhood patriot came up with an inspired—some would call it insane—idea. Someone should sneak into Vietnam, track down their buddies there, give them messages of support from back home, and share a few laughs over a can of beer.
It would be the Greatest Beer Run Ever.
But who’d be crazy enough to do it?
One man was up for the challenge—a U. S. Marine Corps veteran turned merchant mariner who wasn’t about to desert his buddies on the front lines when they needed him.
A day later, he was on ... an odyssey that took him through a series of hilarious escapades and harrowing close calls, including the Tet Offensive. But none of that mattered if he could bring some cheer to his pals and show them how much the folks back home appreciated them.
This is the story of that epic beer run, told in Chick’s own words and those of the men he visited in Vietnam.
If this hadn't actually happened, I'd feel like this story was written by an algorithm to appeal specifically to me. And to most American men I know. And I know a lot.
I mean, how many perfect elements can you fit into one plot? Comedy. Beer. Male friendship. Loyalty. Heroism. Self-sacrifice. Patriotism. Having beers with males you call friends. And that ultimate display of male friendship, what they refer in that great buddy comedy Animal House as "a stupid and futile gesture." Even without some gratuitous nudity, this sounds like it hits every note to make it a potentially great Guy Movie. Which is an all too rare, nearly extinct thing these days. Here's hoping the film lives up to the trailer. And leave me alone the day it releases.