SIFF 2024: Rainier: A Beer Odyssey (***1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 11, 2024)

“Raaay-neeEER-BEEERrrrr….” If you lived in Alaska or the Northwest in the 70s and 80s, you’ll “get” that-and likely start chuckling. That said, you don’t have to have lived in Alaska or the Northwest to get a chuckle out of Isaac Olsen’s documentary. Olsen recounts the origin of the small (and unconventional) Seattle ad agency led by madmen Terry Heckler and Gordon Bowker that dreamt up a series of now-iconic Rainier Beer TV ads. A many-tendrilled odyssey indeed, with some unexpected sidebars (like cross-pollination with the inception of the Starbucks empire, and the story behind Mickey Rooney’s involvement with the campaign). A fascinating, entertaining look at the process behind the creative side of marketing, bolstered by a generous helping of the original TV ads.

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