McConaughey plays a man that goes by the name of Moondog. He's a poet, of some sorts, spending his days walking around the beach, frequently laying out in his boat, and enjoying as many libations as humanly possible. How is he able to survive off of this? His wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) has a plethora of riches, and has allowed her beloved Moondog to live off her wealth. His dilemma arrises when he drinks to excess and gets behind the wheel, killing Minnie, and losing his soul mate, and his cash flow. Moondog then has to find his inspiration and write a book of poetry that he promised Minnie many years ago. Or else, he won't get the money left for him in her will. It's shape up or ship out time, but Moondog does not learn much, he just parties harder, and eventually pulls himself together. All right, all right.
If you know who director Harmony Korine is, his work is a certain type of style. He's a deliberate, art house filmmaker, pushing his viewer past their limitations. Previous films, such as Kids, Mister Lonely, and most recently Spring Breakers, all have a unique sense of celebrity and the audacity of wealth. The Beach Bum highlights all of those things, but similar to his previous works, Korine does not know when to cut it off. I was excited that The Beach Bum was sparring me the repeated phrase “Spriiing Breaak”, but instead it is replaced with a constantly spinning, laughing, and falling Moondog McConaughey. What saves The Beach Bum from being a colossal bore is Korine's flare for neon lighting and the appearance of Martin Lawrence in a small role that's so good, I wish he was what the movie was about.
You might wonder why I wavered with my opinion of The Beach Bum? It's not that this is a bad film. It's not going to come close to any worst of the year lists. I think it's just not much of a challenge for both McConaughey and Korine. At the most, this was a vacation getaway for the Oscar winner, and at the least for Korine, this is not a challenge. Even his messaging about the world we are living in is deaf. I hit a point where not only did I find the way Korine films women to be offensive, The Beach Bum also feels like a slap to the face of those who struggle with addiction. In McConaughey's mind, Moondog is okay for being an alcoholic skipping out on his rehab. As long as he's having a good time, we should be forgiving of it all.
The Beach Bum is as deep as the four or five poems we hear from Moondog and lacking enough creativity to go beyond the premise of having fun. The performance from McConaughey may have felt inspired to him, but equals to a guy playing dress up at comic-con. Maybe audiences will enjoy The Beach Bum more in the near future, but maybe next time Harmony Korine can come up with something less laid back, and much more serious? Alright? Alright? Alright.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: THE BEACH BUM
STARRING: MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY; ISLA FISHER; SNOOP DOG; ZAC EFRON
DIRECTED BY: HARMONY KORINE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
I wavered back and forth on Harmony Korine's The Beach Bum. It's a movie that Korine prefaced at the SXSW premiere by saying, he made it with a message of “fun”. How much the audience will enjoy the shenanigans depends on if you are in the mood for the full Matthew McConaughey experience. He sports stringy long blonde locks, wears a pair of old flip-up baseball sunglasses, drinks plenty of tall boy beers, and waxes philosophically in the Key West sun. Essentially, he just plays himself, just in better lighting. The Beach Bum does offer a bit of humor, Korine is a capable, artistic director, yet the fun that was had hits a wall. In fact, I'm not sure The Beach Bum has much to say at all.