Review: The Beach Bum

Title: The Beach Bum
Rating: R
Director: Harmony Korine
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher
Runtime: 1hr 35min

What It Is: Acclaimed poet and novelist Moondog (McConaughey) happily spends his days on a cloud of inebriation. He drifts back home to his gorgeous wife (Fisher) and a luxurious mansion for his daughter’s wedding. When a subsequent event forces him to finish his next book or his riches will be frozen for the rest of his life, Moondog travels from person to person on a joyous booze-soaked journey to completion.

What We Think: Harmony Korine is one of the most influential modern filmmakers of alternative and experimental cinema, his reign starting ever since writing the controversial AIDS-epidemic film KIDS (dir. Larry Clark) when he was nineteen years old. He has ever since been a powerful creative force in the field—I highly recommend his entire filmography (starting chronologically). Upon watching the films trailer—I knew what I wanted from this film. Being a fan of Korine’s directing for a long time now, I knew I could let myself have that expectation. I was excited–and I was NOT let down.

Prepare yourself for the ‘The Adventures of Moondog,’ essentially: an unforgettable, trashy, free-spirited, hilarious ride that you wish was finished already so you can watch it all over again, only high. It’s an atmospheric stoner-joyride, a sort of antithesis to your commonplace Hollywood biopic. The entire cast (yes—even the Snoop) are exuberant, the character writing (as always by Korine) brilliant. They’re gritty; grounded despite being high as kites. There’s something to love about everyone. The snaggletoothed McConaughey is wonderful, almost transcendent, and unrecognizable in one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seem him in (move over, Dallas Buyers Club).

The film itself ain’t bad to look at. The cinematography, by Benoit Debie (Love, Climax, Spring Breakers) is colorful and soulful. The original soundtrack, however, was a very heavy and overbearing; sorta cheesy and distracting. It (composed by John Debney, who also orchestrated soundtracks for Isn’t It Romantic and The Greatest Showman…) is named the biggest detriment of the film and took away from some parts. It didn’t fit the movie at all. Otherwise, I’d say this movie was money well spent.

Our Grade: A-, Unlike a lot of other Korine films; it’s an interesting step in the evolution of Korine’s directorial efforts. This one felt different somehow, namely tonally. It’s not Gummo, nor is it Spring Breakers. It’s a genuinely happy and playful movie that made me actually laugh. Me. The story may not be one of Korine’s best, but certainly his most palatable and enjoyable and probably the best movie I’ve seen this year yet (next to Climax, Midnight Family, and Hail Satan): I passionately recommend this for those who are looking for a competent film lending you a stupid good time. 

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Chai Simone Written by: