The Beach Bum
Maybe Harmony Korine had to make a film as dreadful and misguided as Spring Breakers in order to make one as delightful and inspired as The Beach Bum.
Whatever it took for the writer/director to get the toxins out of his system, it happened and the result is a blissful, hilarious romp on the wild side of life with a wholly committed Matthew McConaughey serving as our guide.
The actor’s Moondog — a lapsed poet who’d rather get drunk, stoned, and traipse around Key West, bankrolled by his wealthy, supportive, Miami-based wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) — is a complete character, rounded out by a loud, scuzzy wardrobe and accessories, plus an amazing high-pitched laugh.
Like its protagonist, The Beach Bum is constantly in motion, spurred by outlandish behavior presented so matter-of-factly that one starts to wonder if Moondog & Friends are the norm and more restrained viewers are the outliers.
Told in the style of chapters from a few months in the leisure-seeker’s life, what conflict exists involves Moondog being forced to finish his long-delayed novel in order to remain financially afloat. Invigorating this half-assed quest are interesting characters who come and go, with a few returning — including a perfectly-cast Snoop Dogg playing a successful musician named Lingerie, and Jimmy Buffett as himself — but the constant is the ridiculous yet lovable Moondog.
Complementing McConaughey’s dedicated effort is Jonah Hill acting like a fringe gay William Faulkner character as Moondog’s (understandably) frustrated literary agent; Zac Efron as a vaping, Creed-obsessed, rebellious minister’s son with facial hair that looks like the aftermath of a weed-whacker accident; and Martin Lawrence as Moondog’s friend who’s allegedly carved out a nice life for himself taking tourists out for dolphin tours.
Foremost, however, The Beach Bum proves an ideal collaboration for Korine and McConaughey, who are mindful to fill every shot with an amusing visual and often accompanying humorous bit of dialogue. Plentiful tangential footage of the star running around, being wild, and having fun suggests copious footage with which to work and a tremendous job done in the editing room to stitch it all together in such gloriously entertaining fashion — but a certain degree of planning is necessary to obtain footage of this high caliber, so cheers to the dynamic duo for their set-up and execution.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark