Where I Watched It: Apple Plus
Audio Description Provided by: PixelLogic
Narrated By: laura Post
Peter Farrelly is experiencing this moment where he can split from being a Farrelly Brother and show his range at dramatic interpretations of real life stories. Of course, he successfully landed in the history books when he directed Best Picture winner Green Book. Although that film faced a lot of backlash for it’s white savior story arc, I’m proudly reporting that we once again have a white savior.. he’s just not specifically trapped in a story about race.
Zac Efron is that savior, a New Yorker who is a proud supporter of the soldiers fighting in Vietnam, because he believes a lot of the propaganda about stopping communism, and also because he’s got several friends over there. So, when his character, Chickee makes an off hand comment about traveling to Vietnam with some PBR for the boys, just to remind them that they are loved back home, he doesn’t really realize what he’s gotten himself into.
The rest of the film basically finds him Forrest Gumping his way through Vietnam trying to get a beer to all of his friends. And in case you think this plot is stupid, so do all of them. At first, they find it amusing, but then they realize he has no idea what this is actually like, and they’ve been living in hell, and Chickee just thinks he can hitchhike across Vietnam.
Other critics haven’t been a big fan of the film, and I’ve tried to read some of those reviews and listen to YouTube critics, but I just disagree. The film isn’t perfect, but it certainly isn’t bad. As I approach 150 titles that were released this year, i feel safe in saying this is in my Top 50.
Farrelly does a good job of balancing the pro-war and anti-war sides for as long as he needs to to make Chickee work. Ultimately, you can see the toll this film takes on Chickee as he sees what its really like for his friends in Vietnam, and his opinions of those reporters sending back graphic images (like the one played by Russell Crowe), changes. As he realizes that his own life is compromised at several parts, and he sees things he cannot unsee, Chickee becomes sober quite fast.
While I wouldn’t consider him a front runner for a nomination, this role does a lot to build future confidence in Zac Efron should he ever be in a film that truly makes him deserving of a nomination. This is some of his best work, and while the role plays to his strong suits, by needing someone with radiating charisma, it also does push him to the limit a few times, challenging his range. In a year where actors like Brendan Fraser and Colin Farrell might get their first Oscar nominations, Efron is still years away, but this will be a stepping stone.
The other two big names, Russell Crowe and Bill Murray, well, they got offered thankless roles. in the pantheon of both of their careers, their roles here are insignificant and small enough that no one will be clamoring for any award for either of them. not that they are bad, it’s just stunt casting, especially with Murray, who has maybe ten lines of dialogue, and less than 5 minutes of screentime. I think he made a bigger appearance and impact in Zombieland.
The metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes on this are baffling, and I challenge a lot of critics to sit through some of the films I’ve sat through this year. When all you do is watch selective prestige pictures, you don’t realize how lucky you are, as the rest of the consumers have to wade through shit like Marmaduke, Me Time, Moonfall, They/Them, and a number of useless titles that make Beer Run look like Oscar gold.
But even i have to acknowledge, it really isn’t a perfect film. My biggest complaint is that the film talks up how hard it will be to simply get to Vietnam. In the film, it takes Zac Efron the snap of a finger, because Farrelly decided to not film a single sequence on the boat. So one minute he’s in America, and the next, Vietnam. You can’t tell us how hard it is, and how he’ll spend two months on a boat, and then just jump that entire thing. True, at just over two hours, this film is paced well, but I ahve a hard time believing my mind would have been changed by spending 5 minutes on the boat showing what Chickee had to do to get there.
The description here was great. Honestly, i didn’t even realize it was Laura post. Sometimes, I get so used to hearing her use her Disney voice, that when she has to narrate a serious film, I’m trying to figure out “is that Tanzi Alexander? Who is this?” I forget sometimes that she has her Disney family friendly voice, but also her regular straight voice. The narration here by PixelLogic is good. There are a couple sequences of violence, and i thought the description did a nice job giving us a taste of the horrors of war.
i might be going out on a limb here, but I basically enjoyed this film. It’s not perfect, and despite it’s controversy, Green Book is a better film. But this one is still worth your time, and the critics firebombing this are all sentenced to watching Hot Take: The johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial on Tubi.
Final Grade: B+