Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron
Director: Harmony Korine
This may be an early contender for most bizarre release of 2019. At multiple points in the film, I thought to myself, “I have no idea what is going on.” The weird part about all of it though is that I think I was supposed to feel that way. This movie feels like a 95 minute drug trip right from the start all the way and rides a fine line between fun and goofy. I’m not sure if this film is a genius testimony of love and the struggles of the creative mind or just an excuse to watch Snoop Dogg smoke weed on a larger screen, but regardless, The Beach Bum is a fun yet flawed piece of entertainment that should keep you satisfied the entire time.
The movie follows Moondog (McConaughey), a poet who spends most of his time using drugs with his friend Rie (Dogg) and cheating on his wife Minnie (Fisher). When the circumstances surrounding Moondog’s life change, he must find a way to continue living the life he wants to live while also facing the reality that sometimes our lives get better when we move on to better things. As stated earlier, I still have a very tough time figuring out exactly what this movie is about. We don’t ever really see Moondog grow as a character and he spends most if not all of his time on-screen acting as an absolute degenerate with no desire to move away from this behavior. This makes it very difficult to support the movie because a lot of Moondog’s behavior has little to be desired and would be horrible to be around in the real world. While many of his antics end up being comical, it doesn’t take away that icky feeling you get when you watch him parade around and act in a way that most would see as too extreme for someone in their 20’s, let alone their 40’s. The one thing this film does incredibly well is the use of high-profile actors in minor roles that seem almost like cameos but serve as actual characters that make the movie function. Actors such as Efron, Jonah Hill, and Martin Lawrence aren’t in the movie for very long, but when they are, they’re hilarious and it comes as kind of a surprise when we see them for the first time. These appearances mostly summarizes why those who watch this movie will probably enjoy it. Through its randomness and unclear direction, we get a movie that emulates the life of Moondog and shows us a truly accurate picture of what he sees in life and what he values. You may not agree with how Moondog lives his life, but whether it’s disgust or humor, you’ll find yourself reacting in some sort of emotional way towards it. Considering Korine previously directed Spring Breakers, it makes sense that his next film deals with the same level of zaniness and experimental nature of movies like his previous one did. When it’s all said and done, Beach Bum is entertaining enough to look past its flaws and provide a solid piece of entertainment.
Overall, when I first saw promotional materials for The Beach Bum, I thought it would either be one of the best films of the year or one of the worst. Somehow, it ended up being almost exactly in the middle, which tells me just like Moondog, The Beach Bum manages to defy both the positive and negative expectations associated with it. Some people may think this a sensitive interpretation of the interrelationship of love, drugs, and art. Others may see this as nothing more than a crude attempt at shock humor. Ultimately, who says it can’t be a little bit of both?
Overall Score: 5/10