Film festival awards don’t usually have much lasting impact, but four years ago when “green paper” played at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the People’s Choice Award, it had a seismic effect. This set the film on what would become its road to Oscar glory. As it turned out to be a very bumpy road, with many critics picking on the film for what they perceived to be its outdated liberal racial consciousness (not me – I thought “Green Book” was great), the Toronto price kept coming up in conversation. It has been used to signify the nature of the film’s appeal – namely that it may not have been a film meant to be embraced by the most elite levels of the establishment, but it was one that “the people” were looking for. And that’s exactly what ended up happening. (People, in this case, including a slew of Oscar voters.)

So tonight, when Toronto hosted the world premiere of “The greatest beer race of all time“, The first movie Pierre Farrelly realized since “Green Book,” you can bet thoughts of that award were lingering in the air. What I can report, however, is that regardless of whether or not ‘The Greatest Beer Run Ever’ awards won in Toronto, the film is not will pull a repeat of the “Green Book” juggernaut.

It’s because this time the movie doesn’t deliver. It’s made with the same brand of dynamic mainstream craftsmanship, plus an expert lens (by Sean Porter), that made ‘Green Book’ easy to understand. But that film was powered by a pair of world-class performances, and whatever your opinion of its politics, it had a witty and deftly structured buddy movie script. It all added up.

“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” drags and winds, and not just because the structure isn’t there. What we see, on a human level, is only half interesting and rather shoddy. Like “Green Book,” “Greatest Beer Run” is based on a true story, but what Peter Farrelly responded to in that story translates, this time, to “relevant” boomer nostalgia that hasn’t been fully thoughtful.

Zac Efron, in plaid shirts and a thick black mustache, plays John “Chickie” Donahue, a Marine Corps veteran and merchant seaman who spends his days – and, indeed, his existence – living with his parents in working-class Inwood. section of upper Manhattan. It’s 1967, and Chickie, who is a shameless jerk, is hanging out with her buddies at the local bar, talking about all the friends they have from the neighborhood who are fighting in Vietnam. Chickie always emphasizes how much he supports the troops. His friends too, as well as Colonel (Bill Murray), a World War II veteran who runs the bar and insists that soldiers in Vietnam are all heroes. But not everyone feels this. Opposition to the war is on the rise, and Chickie’s sister Christine (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis) is one of those joining the local protests, with signs and the classic “Hey, hey, LBJ!” How many children have you killed today?

There is a culture war going on, which is tearing families – and possibly the country – apart. Farrelly wants us to hear an echo of today’s culture war, but it doesn’t take long for that parallel to fade from the film. Because “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” has something more in mind. Something important. Something morally and spiritually purifying. Are you seated?

Chickie wants to bring a bunch of beers to her grumpy buddies in Vietnam.

That doesn’t seem like a good idea to us. Unless, of course, “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” is an ’80s comedy starring Chevy Chase, in which case it would be a really good idea. But the story told by the film actually happened: in 1967, Chickie Donahue really traveled to Vietnam on a merchant navy ship, landed in Saigon and tried to go to the country. with a bag full of beer. But that doesn’t mean what happened to him is compelling. “Greatest Beer Run” tells what is essentially a story of quixotic whim mixed with a good dose of stupidity. And the movie, strangely enough, even includes that.

It doesn’t take long for Chickie to get to ‘Nam (the Merchant Navy cruise lasts two months, but only a screen moment), and at first, after hitchhiking north, there’s a scene in which he lands at the base camp of his buddy Rick Duggan (Jake Picking), a soldier who has to rush through a combat zone just to meet him. Rick walks in, and Chickie gives him a big smile and holds a few beers, hoping that Rick will be happy to see him. Instead, Rick is pissed off. He just went through a hail of bullets and he wants to know: What is Chickie doing? He has no place there. Rick doesn’t need beer, and it all sounds a little crazy. We listen to this rant and think, “Okay, we weren’t crazy for feeling like this was a dumb idea.” But Chickie is stubborn in his cocky optimism, even when he gets shot in a den without a gun. He wants to see his friends! Including, hopefully, Tommy (Will Hochman), who went missing in action, but who Chickie is almost certain will show up. Doesn’t he want a beer?

Since Farrelly is too good a filmmaker to want to cut corners, so much of “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” – do you get the irony of the title? – is dedicated to the logistics of how Chickie gets around in Vietnam. Part of that is a running joke that seems to belong in that Chevy Chase movie: Since Chickie has no military credentials, an officer assumes he’s with the CIA, and Chickie’s denial just plays as a conformation. And it keeps hitting that note. He is taken across ‘Nam – in airplanes, helicopters, jeeps – based on the perception that he is a powerful agent who must be supported.

In the countryside, however, he’s mostly at sea. And because the film is set up, he rarely connects with anyone for more than a few minutes, his odyssey has a tiresome undertow. We know that even the soldier friends he wants to hang out with don’t care to see him (and why would they? They’re screwed). So how invested can we be in knowing if he ends up meeting them?

Zac Efron is an actor I look up to, but in this movie he’s forced to play a guy we have to work for. It’s not that Efron is less than likable, but he plays Chickie with a laid-back myopic recklessness that isn’t the sort of thing that should maintain the focus of a film. And since the film is gallopingly episodic, we have more than enough time to notice several howls baked into it. Why, for example, do the characters, who are all from New York, speak in Boston accents? I am not joking. The whole art of accent specificity has been so lost that to prepare for their roles, it looks like the whole cast just studied a bunch of Ben Affleck movies.

Screamer number two: Chickie keeps giving away the cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon he brought in his bag. He distributes them in berths, he distributes them on the road, he is like Santa Claus from brewskie. But after a while, all I could think about was: how many beers does he have have in that fucking duffel bag? Did he borrow the bag from Mary Poppins? Beyond that, the film makes a glaring mistone when Chickie gets into a helicopter, watches a Viet Cong soldier being interrogated (by a real CIA agent), and the soldier is thrown out of the helicopter. , diving to his death…and before we can even react, the film plays “Cherish,” from The Association, on the soundtrack. Is that supposed to be ironic? Because that sounds like the definition of deaf.

If Chickie the Beer Whisperer isn’t really in touch with her ‘Nam friends, then what is “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” about? I have bad news on this: it’s about Chickie, who was passionate about the war, learning that Vietnam is the mess the protesters said it was, that LBJ and General Westermoreland (that we let’s see on TV) are lying, and that the whole system is lying. In a bar in Saigon, Chickie meets a handful of American journalists, including a correspondent from Look magazine played by Russell Crowe in the deepest voice. They all pointed it out to “the PR war” and how the US government uses it to hide the truth about Vietnam. But Chickie has to see it for himself. And in combat zones, it does. As he says at the end of the film, he learns that unlike the chaos and slaughter of World War II, it is wrong chaos and slaughter. So now he’s an expert! Unfortunately, that means “The Greatest Been Run Ever” is really a lesson – about America’s lost innocence and why the war in Vietnam was a moral catastrophe – that none of us have. need to learn.