The Beach Bum doesn't have enough fun in the sun
Matthew McConaughey teams with writer/director Harmony Korine for The Beach Bum from Neon Pictures. Moondog (McConaughey) is a talented poet with a man-child complex who lives part-time in Key West, Florida. Moondog spends his day smoking weed, having sex with numerous women, and maintaining a carefree view of the world. While Moondog has written one successful book of poems, he finances his lifestyle with his wife Minnie's trust fund.
Minnie appears to have the same outlook on life as Moondog. She is entangled in an on-going affair with Moon dog's best friend, world renewed R&B singer Lingerie (Snoop Dogg). Tragedy strikes on the night of Moondog and Minnie's daughter Heather's (Stefania LaVie Owen) wedding when Minnie is killed in a car accident.
Much to Moondog's surprise, Minnie left him without a penny to his name. She set up a stipulation in her will that Moondog will only get the money if he finishes his second novel. This means that Moondog will have to go to rehab, get back in the good graces of his agent Lewis (Jonah Hill) and grow up. Will Moondog become the man Minnie wanted him to be, or will he remain a loveable loser.
I've enjoyed Harmony Korine's writing style since his conversational 1995 debut Kids. While some of Korine's previous directing gigs haven't hit the mark for me, mostly due to an uneven tone, he showed promise with 2012's Spring Breakers. To my dismay, seven years later, after the decent Spring Breakers, Korine has once again directed an uneven movie with The Beach Bum.
The first half of the film isn't too bad, as Matthew McConaughey is having the time of his life portraying Moondog. Granted, in reality, Moondog isn't someone I would associate with las he lacks direction. Still, McConaughey turns Moondog into a likable loser. I can't think of another actor who would've made the role successfully. One minute I was shaking my head at Moondog's reckless behavior. Moments later, I was somewhat agreeing with his outlook on life. While she receives second billing, Isla Fisher's role is pretty much an extended cameo as Moondog's wife. Fisher has excellent chemistry with both McConaughey and Snoop Dogg as the two loves of her life.
Snoop Dogg is essentially playing himself but does a decent acting job. The film is also filled with numerous cameos, including Jimmy Buffet portraying himself and Zac Efron portraying Flicker, a preacher's kid who Moondog meets in rehab. Like Isla Fisher, Zac Efron has an extended cameo, which is a shame as Efron is one of the bright spots in the film.
I also enjoyed seeing Martin Lawrence return to the big screen for the first time in eight years. Lawrence portrays Captain Wack as a clueless dolphin tour guide. Lawrence's fifteen or so minutes of screen time shows just how talented and hilarious the comic is. He truly deserves more roles on the big screen.
The Beach Bum begins to lose focus once Moondog leaves rehab as Korine's script is distorted. The final product comes across as a series of vignettes as opposed to traditional linear storytelling. The route that Corrine's decides to take would've worked better with the character of Moondog, possibly writing his memoirs or telling his story to a rehab group. The final nail in the coffin for me arrives when the film ends. On the one hand, the decision that Moondog will make anyone shake their head, but driving home, I came to the conclusion The Beach Bum couldn't end any other way.
The Beach Bum will easily be the second flop of 2019 for Matthew McConaughey following the vastly underrated Serenity. While McConaughey delivers a fun performance, it's just enough to save The Beach Bum from being a washout.
Final Grade D+