Zac Efron on playing Chickie Donohue, the man who delivered beer in a warzone

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The Greatest Beer Run Ever is the kind of title you might expect from a LadBible video, rather than a feature film released during awards season.

And while Apple TV’s new movie, which stars Zac Efron and Russell Crowe, may not be traditional Oscars bait, it’s worth looking beyond its somewhat trivial title.

Director Peter Farrelly’s previous film, Green Book, won best picture in 2019, which means there is significant interest in the story he’s chosen for his latest project.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever follows the true story of Chickie Donohue, a US marine who, in 1968, travelled across the world to deliver a crate of beer to his mates who were fighting in the Vietnam War.

At that time, morale among the soldiers was low, so the New Yorker set out on a four-month journey with a (presumably very heavy) bag of beer on his back, to lift their spirits.

Delivering beer to enlisted men from your neighbourhood is all fun and games, until Donohue actually gets there and is confronted with the quite brutal realities of war. (One character tells him the expedition is “the dumbest thing I ever heard”.) Donohue himself had served four years in the Marines, but hadn’t experienced combat.

“Tonally, it starts light,” Farrelly told journalists earlier this month after the film’s premiere in Toronto. “The silliness of this guy trying to bring a beer to his friends in Vietnam is just nuts, and you see him smiling, then when he gets to Vietnam the reality hits and the tone changes, but it’s natural.

“It didn’t take a lot of work on my part, it took a lot of work on [Efron’s] part because he had to become a different guy along the way.”

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