Friday Film Review - "The Beach Bum"

Apr 19, 2019

A mash up of infamous movie characters Spicoli and The Dude, Matthew McConaughey is Moondog in Harmony Korine’s new comedy “The Beach Bum”.

Casting Matthew McConaughey as an aging beach bum/beat poet isn’t too much of a stretch, but in Harmony Korine’s new comedy “The Beach Bum” McConaughey is so convincing as the stoner poet Moondog, he’s almost unrecognizable.

“The Beach Bum” shadows the life of Moondog, an eccentric local celebrity living on Key West. Everyone knows Moondog - the non-stop joint smoking, hard drinking, womanizer who somehow seems to have scored a sweet ocean front bungalow on his non-existent income.

Turns out, Moondog was a prolific poet back in the day. While his poems may have been a bit off color, he’s sold more than a few books, which seem to be enough to support his ever-lazy lifestyle.

But little do we know that Moondog has another life just up the coast in Miami. There, he’s the husband of the ultra-wealthy Minne (played by Isla Fisher).

The unconventional couple are about to marry off their only child Heather (played by Stephanie Owen), and there’s a party to throw, complete with family friend and rapper Lingere (played by Snoop Dog) officiating the ceremony.

But during the wedding’s afterparty, the comedy takes a dark turn as Moondog’s life falls apart. Through his adversity, Moondog keeps that cheery stoner perspective as more than a few curveballs are thrown his way, including the withholding of a sizable inheritance until he finishes the next in the series of his long-awaited poetry books.

Drowning himself in vodka and some pretty intense weed procured from his pal Lingere, Moondog goes on a bender and winds up in rehab where he meets his new partner in crime Flicker, a drug addicted arsonist/preacher’s son played by Zac Efron, who’s sporting a wild buzz cut said too be inspired by a panini press.

Rehab is no match for Moondog and Flicker as they bust out of the facility and indulge in an hazy few days and nights of sex and drugs and …. more sex and more drugs. The pair part ways and Moondog returns to the familiar shores of Key West where he wanders aimlessly day and night living as a drunken and stoned transient.

Moondog reconnects with an old fishing pal Captain Wack (in a hilarious performance by Martin Lawrence) who invites Moondog to join him in his highly successful dolphin tour boat business.

Inspired by the familiar surroundings of Key West, Moondog hammers out the remaining chapters of his book - much to the delight of his literary agent (played by Jonah Hill with a deep southern drawl). But will the new book bring more fame and fortune to the down on his luck Moondog?

Actor turned screenwriter (with the raunchy, action/adventure cult-favorite Spring Breakers), Harmony Korine wrote and directed “The Beach Bum”.

Rated R for pervasive drug and alcohol use, language throughout, nudity and some strong sexual content, “The Beach Bum” runs a sometime slow 95 minutes.

While the plot line seems to drag, the ensemble cast carries the film - did I mention Florida’s own Jimmy Buffet has a small role - some of the most laughable moments belong to McConaughey, Hill and Lawrence.

The more I think about it the more I liked the film, it kind of grows on you like a barnacle. It’s a film worth watching if you’d like to have a few good laughs, just don’t take the kids, trust me.