Sometimes having too much of a good thing is a detriment. The Beach Bum stars Matthew McConaughey in a role he was born to play, and one would have never guessed that such a calling would relinquish less than ideal results. The Beach Bum uses his performance as the focal point in a unique movie that is failed by its unfocused and ultimately boring story.
Moondog is a genius poet whose fallen on hard times relishing in alcohol and drugs. Through the exploration of his relationships, The Beach Bum takes the audience through a series of vignettes that enlighten McConaughey’s characters persona and drive. The rebellious writer tries to entwine his own life values with a society that is seemingly separating away from his minimal life priorities.
The major overarching problem that Moondog has to laugh his way through is a lack of funds. He cannot inherit a very wealthy sum until he finishes his latest literary venture of a series of poems. His happy-go-lucky attitude puts him at friendly odds with publisher Jonah Hill, played by Jonah Hill. Moondog is shown typing away on his old fashioned typewriter while he interacts with various personalities.
The ultimate downer of The Beach Bum is that the story is LONG despite running just 95 minutes. Meandering through bars, pools, dolphin touring boats, yachts, and rehab centers, Moondog’s antics loses intrigue real fast. My leaning that way may come from the fact that I feel little sympathy for characters who create their own misfortune (AKA Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad…I am only starting season 3).
McConaughey goes all out in his depiction of Moondog. There is no denying that. His overgrown belly swaying in his unbuttoned Hawaiian attire draws the eyes without fail. But as a mentioned at the top; having too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Like Tropic Thunder noted, sometimes you can’t go all out. You know what I am saying. I need a little bit of sane humanity to enjoy my McConaughey, and The Beach Bum didn’t bring enough of that. By no means is he bad, but he isn’t atop his game.
The best of the minor characters is Moondog’s wife, Minnie, played by Isla Fisher. Fisher is freaking hilarious and immensely talented. She has been the best part of her last three comedy movies, The Beach Bum, Tag, and Keeping Up with the Joneses. Then there is Nocturnal Animals which was one of the most overlooked movies of 2016. Isla Fisher delivers and her unique voice makes Minnie the highlight of The Beach Bum.
Unfortunately, Minnie isn’t in much of the movie. Lingerie, played by Snoop Dog in a perfectly casted role, plays Moondog’s best friend and sees plenty of screen time. Martin Lawrence plays a smaller part as the immensely passionate for Dolphin seeking as Captain Wack. The most marketing character alongside Moondog is Flicker, played by Zac Efron. The two stoners meet in rehab and embark on some shenanigans but the adventure does not last nearly as long as viewers were led to believe. It’s a flash in the pan that summers but never reaches a boil.
The Beach Bum boasts so many good ideas and has a cast that’s intriguing in many ways, but it’s prospects are still flooded by a lackluster story. Characters, moments and set skits don’t make a movie without a plot to get invested in. It may be that I do not connect with the stoner community so the “live life” or “You gotta go low to get high” mottos fly over my head, but The Beach Bum disappointed in that avenue in major ways.
In terms of the look of The Beach Bum, it is distinctly Harmony Korine. Known for directing Spring Breakers, his second major motion picture definitely lives in the tropical environment he’s most comfortable in. The look of the movie is unique and he isn’t afraid to mix up styles within the movie itself; for example, the montage of Minnie and Moondog and the aftermath is different than the majority of what follows.
As I am typing out this reaction, I have a dark sense I was too harsh on The Beach Bum. However, I have a steadfast rule that the grade I put into my Excel sheet is the one that stays. I didn’t like The Beach Bum, but it has cinematic qualities that are admirable. I just can’t put those traits above the overall displeasure and dissatisfaction.
STANKO RATING: D