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 living a carefree life in Key West. Moondog spends his day smoking weed and having sex with numerous women. While Moondog has written one successful book, his wife’s, Minnie (Isla Fisher), trust fund finances his lifestyle. Minnie has the same outlook on life as Moondog, engaging in an on-going affair with Moondog’s best friend, R&B singer Lingerie (Snoop Dogg).
Tragedy strikes when Minnie dies in a car accident. Much to Moondog’s surprise, Minnie left a stipulation in her will. Moondog will only get the money when he finishes his second novel. Now Moondog will have to go to rehab, get back in the good graces of his agent, and grow up. Will Moondog become the man Minnie wanted him to be, or will he remain a loveable loser?
The first half of the film isn’t bad, and Matthew McConaughey is having the time of his life portraying Moondog. In reality, Moondog isn’t someone I would’ve associated with. He lacks direction. But, McConaughey turns Moondog into a likable loser. One minute I was shaking my head at Moondog’s reckless behavior; moments later, I was agreeing with his outlook on life. While she receives second billing, Isla Fisher’s role is pretty much an extended cameo. Fisher has excellent chemistry with McConaughey and Snoop Dogg, the two loves of her life. Snoop Dogg is essentially playing himself but does a decent acting job.
The film has numerous cameos including Jimmy Buffet and Zac Efron. Similar to Isla Fisher, Zac Efron has an extended cameo, which is a shame because 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’s screen time showed just how talented and hilarious the comedian is. He truly deserves more roles on the big screen.
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, Korine has once again directed an uneven film with The Beach Bum.
Korine’s script is all over the place. It comes across as a series of vignettes as opposed to traditional linear storytelling. Korine’s decided route would’ve worked better with Moondog writing his memoirs or telling his story in rehab. The final nail in the coffin for arrives when the film ends. On the one hand, the decision Moondog made would cause anyone with sense to shake their head. But driving home, I realized The Beach Bum couldn’t have ended any other way.
The Beach Bum will easily be the second flop of 2019 for McConaughey following the underrated Serenity. While McConaughey delivers a fun performance, it’s just not enough to save The Beach Bum from being a washout.
Final Grade: D+