I’m going to go ahead and spoil my normal structure of giving my viewing suggestion at the end by saying that The Beach Bum is not a movie worth seeing. If you have a friend or family member that says, “Hey, want to go see Matthew McConaughey’s new movie? Looks like it might be kinda funny,” tell them your money would be better spent buying floppy disks.
The Beach Bum is director Harmony Korine’s attempt, as far as I can tell, at a satirical comedy of the genius, unfulfilled artist and society’s glorification and fascination of these misunderstood virtuosos. Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) is a washed-up poet who spends his time drinking, copulating with random 20-something females, and doing pretty much anything he wants. Moondog is married to Minnie (Isla Fisher), an attractive heiress who does not look like someone who shares a 22-year-old daughter with the flamed-out writer.
Moondog returns from one of his debaucheries to celebrate his daughter’s wedding. Throughout the wedding scene and the reception, the film reveals that Moondog hasn’t written anything substantial in years, lives off of his wife’s money, and has never really been a father figure for his daughter. But all of this is OK with Minnie because she loves him for his strangeness and brilliance (also because she’s been having an ongoing affair with close family friend Lingerie, an R&B singer/rapper played by Snoop Dogg). As the night and celebrations go on, an obviously intoxicated Minnie suggests she and the undoubtedly drunk/stoned Moondog go driving. Predictably, they get into an accident, in which Minnie dies.
Minnie’s will reveals that half of her estate goes to her daughter, and the other half is frozen until Moondog writes his novel. With all of the assets listed in her name, Moondog is kicked out of the house with only the clothes on his back, some books, and a typewriter that he carries in a pillow case, thus setting off Moodog’s odyssey of meeting “interesting” characters along his journey of completing his novel.
After the somewhat interesting introduction, the rest of the plot is pointless. Korine, who also wrote the film, distracts the audience with some of his trademark visuals (neon lights, slow motion camera work), guns, drugs, and nudity, from the fact that the story of The Beach Bum goes nowhere. There is an absolute lack of character development, with most of the film’s characters being treated so poorly that I am embarrassed to have spent money in support of this “comedy.” We see our protagonist cheat on his wife (multiple times), destroy a house, break out of a court-mandated rehab facility, and smash a glass bottle over the head of an elderly gentleman in a motorized scooter and steal his money, only to spend it on cocaine and prosittues. In a cringeworthy scene where Lingerie and Moondog are conversing about Minnie after her death, all they talk about is how great she was at sex and how much she loved Moondog. Disgusting.
I should have known better than to go to the theater and watch a film made by the same person who wrote and directed Spring Breakers (one of my least favorite films of ALL TIME), which, not surprisingly, was Korine’s most recent work. Korine wastes the talents of McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Zac Efron, with the latter two actors receiving less than 30 minutes of screen time combined. I’m not sure if Korine was trying to make The Beach Bum into a form of dark comedy, (my best guess on what I witnessed) but whatever he was trying to do with this film, it failed stupendously.
Do Not Recommend (EVER): The Beach Bum is the worst box office opening of any wide-release film of 2019, as it took in only $1.8 million. I implore you to not waste your hard-earned money on seeing this movie. Rather, go see Captain Marvel for a second time, go out to a mediocre dinner, or just set your money on fire. All three of those options are better than The Beach Bum.