HomeMovies'The Beach Bum' Review: McConaughey Makes an Otherwise Forgettable Movie Memorable

‘The Beach Bum’ Review: McConaughey Makes an Otherwise Forgettable Movie Memorable

The Beach Bum
Photo Courtesy of Vice and NEON

Here’s a partial list of the crazy things Matthew McConaughey does in Harmony Korine’s latest project, The Beach Bum: has sex with a woman in a restaurant kitchen during service hours,  oral sex on Isla Fisher while she gets her nails done, sets a boat on fire, relocates a van of all of Snoop Dog’s weed, more public sex, and hands Martin Lawrence’s severed foot to him.

f that sounds appealing, you’ll love The Beach Bum. Every ticket should come with the warning of getting a secondary high. You can smell the marijuana leaves burning just looking at Moondog, a stoned-out-of-his-mind-24/7 Miami poet in search of a $50 million inheritance. It’s the role McConaughey was born to play.

If that sounds a bit extra, there’s not much else going on between the scenes. It is mostly a laundry list of crazy feats with little to investigate for deeper passages compared to Korine’s previous work, which suffered from excessive antics. Spring Breakers, in particular, had similar issues, but at least had the crutch of “style over substance” to lean on if its messaging about America was lost in the neon lights. The Beach Bum has the same music video style as Spring Breakers for the first act, but beyond, is happy with its identity as solely McConaughey’s performance.

That said, McConaughey makes this an unforgettable experience. He is beyond committed to the role and makes what would otherwise be questionable comedy into laughs. The movie certainly benefits from McConaughey’s stardom and his devotion just as James Franco leaned into his star power in Spring Breakers. Seeing such a popular personality lean into such a crazy role is funny all by itself, and that’s about as far as its comedy goes.

There’s little plot to discuss but it boils down to Moondog, a former celebrity Miami poet (what an oxymoron that is today), returns home for his daughter’s wedding and reunites with his wealthy, borderline nymphomaniac wife, Minnie (Fisher), who’s having an affair with Lingerie (Snoop Dog). Following the ceremony, Moondog and Minnie go out on a stoners’ adventure that leaves Minnie in the hospital, where she soon flatlines. In order for Moondog to earn his share of the inheritance, Minnie leaves instructions he has to publish another poetry book. Then the $50 million is his.

It plays out a bit like The Odyssey with a couple of moral obstacles in Moondog’s way, each one he runs past in search of a shortcut. But along the way, he encounters a number of memorable characters like Zac Efron as a preacher’s son forced into rehab with Moondog. Efron looks like he could be Alien’s little brother in Spring Breakers and lives by the philosophy that “God died for our sins, so anything we do is okay!” He’s one of the more interesting characters Korine has created, but his religious ignorance can hardly qualify as commentary. He’s just an interesting anecdote, as is Martin Lawrence’s crazy dolphin tourist guide. There’s also Jimmy Buffett playing himself which makes for a quick laugh, just like the rest of the movie: a quick laugh.

This is a full-on stoner comedy looking to push up against boundaries, that’s the highest compliment it can get. That’s all it was aiming for, and speaking with a number of cast members on the red carpet, they said the movie is just about having fun. Forget everything else, just enjoy it: mission somewhat accomplished. McConaughey knocks it out of the park, and I fully intend to pull for him come awards season. Since he basically is the movie, it’s an unforgettable experience. Everything else pales in comparison, but his performance is worth the price of admission.

Rating: 6/10

The Beach Bum premiered at SXSW this weekend, it hits theaters nationally on March 29.



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