The Beach Bum Review: McConaughey and Korine come together to create a film full of good vibes
Taking on a role that he feels born to play, Matthew McConaughey teams up with writer/director Harmony Korine to create a positive-minded trip with a freshly fun character that only brings good vibes.
The film follows Moondog (McConaughey), a poet/writer whose rebellious, stoner lifestyle takes a small turn when the death of someone close causes his wealth and connections to disintegrate. Now, he can only reclaim his old fortune by finishing a book that he has said that he was going to write for a long time. Through a journey with friends, old and new, Moondog must reflect on his life, philosophy, and drug use and finish his novel to regain his lifestyle.
McConaughey is pretty much flawless throughout The Beach Bum and embodies the film’s positivity that flows effortlessly from scene to scene. There’s so much genuine fun to be with McConaughey’s Moondog and the way Korine and McConaughey come together to build his character really surprised me. It’s really interesting to see how people react to seeing Moondog and how everyone, even just random people in the street, just know of him.
There’s also a good amount of time given to Moondog’s character to show that he’s not completely a lazy stoner, but that there is some talent and intelligence to him that most people probably wouldn’t give him credit for on a first glance. That’s not to say that he doesn’t make some moral mistakes or doesn’t fit the mold for a typical “film stoner,” but there’s a complexity to him that show his more personal thoughts and feelings that often stuck inside his stoner exterior.
Honestly, his positive sense of life is what makes the film so much damn fun to watch. He constantly mentions how he is just looking for a good time and thanks to McConaughey’s genuine performance the film almost brings you on the same kind of laid-back journey. It’s a film that leaves you with a smile on your face, even when Moondog isn’t always making what most would say is the right choice.
Even for not usually being the biggest fans of Korine’s work, I have to say that each connection that Moondog makes was very engaging and unique to watch. Seeing him chat with his agent (Jonah Hill), escape from rehab and party with Flicker (Zac Efron), and even try to go on a dolphin tour with his old friend Captain Wack (Martin Lawrence) was both random and a great time. That’s not to say that each transition from scene to scene is perfect or that every side character gets enough screen-time for us to really know them, but each makes their impression and never steals the spotlight from Moondog.
Even with Korine really not having the story of Moondog trying to complete his novel be the forefront of the film itself, it actually makes a huge impact by the film’s end. It’s sort of just subtly discussed throughout Moondog’s journey but is kind of just a background thought through his trippy, relaxed journey. However, there’s a great wrap up moment towards the film’s finale that I really appreciated even if it followed by an ending I didn’t really care for. It was a perfect end cap for what I cared about with Moondog, even if I could do without his political banter, and felt like the film had truly come full-circle.
It’s also worth mentioning that Korine’s stylistic filmmaking and song choices really make certain scenes pop. The film has this really vibrant color palette that matches both the bright color of the Florida Keys and the positivity of Moondog. Korine also has a nice selection of songs that really make each scene flow and have a great rhythm to it. I found it really hard to not tap my feet or sway with each song that makes its way into the film.
The Beach Bum is full of good vibes that come from a collection of great moments and contagious sense of positivity that stems from a fantastic performance from McConaughey. It’s a nice showing from Korine as his fun style and incredibly fun characters are extremely hard not to have a good time with.