I walked out of The Beach Bum wondering if I was the only one who thought it was senseless self-indulgent Bantha fodder. Harmony Korine, is known for making some off color underdeveloped films like Kids or Gummo. Somehow Spring Breakers worked with all of its bling because at his creepiest, James Franco is still likeable somehow, but I can’t say the same for Matthew McConaughey’s Moondog. He’s a spoiled rich bum, a cross between Captain Ron, his “Dudeness”, and Muttley the dog. Leathery and no doubt smelling of stale cigarettes, he’s unlikable, arrogant, and has a snickering laugh that you feel like there is an infinitesimal amount of jokes that only he is privy to… In any other realm he would be deemed a beach rat loser, but somehow all is forgiven in this lackadaisical world that Harmony Korine created where a man like Moondog is a charming savior to everyone else caught drinking the Kool-Aid. To say The Beach Bum is over the top is putting it lightly. With guns, cash literally being set on fire, topless chicks, and blunts for days, you would think Snoop Dogg designed the film.
After stumbling around the Florida Keys, Moondog hops on a small motorboat and reunites with his very wealthy wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher), for their daughters wedding. Accompanied by his most trusted comrade, Lingerie (Snoop “Lion” Dogg), who of course has a rare strain of weed in a guarded room, Moondog gets into unadulterated trouble for over ninety minutes.
Moondog is praised for previously being a brilliant potet and somehow always has a typewriter around a la Hunter S Thompson where he unleashes his nonsensical writings, which eventually grants him a Pulitzer? In what universe? At some point Moondog encounters, Flicker (Zac Efron), a pretty party boy. The two flee from a tropical “rehab” and need money for booze/drugs so they hit a guy in a motorized wheelchair over the head with a bottle and steal his cash. This garnered a laugh, albeit uncomfortable, from the audience.
The worst is yet to come though, as getting to see Martin Lawrence get some work as “Captain Wack”! The worst CGI shark scene, the budget for this couldn’t have been small, but man they could have sprung for a decent looking shark that bites off Martin Lawrence’s foot.
In one particular bombastic scene, Moondog recites one of his poems barely clinging on to his clothes while urinating. The audience gets a McConaughey full frontal dosage. Some symbolism of Harmony Korine pissing on Hollywood because he is bored or maybe that’s even a stretch to think that may exist here. In another scene Jonah Hill, playing somewhere between a plantation owner and any generic agent, makes a comment to Moondog, ‘You know what’s the best part of being rich? You can be mean to people and they have to take it’. They both laugh. This is The Beach Bum at its most flaccid. It’s richness is only derived from the vibrant colors and design, the rest of it is derived from the suffering of others, in this case the audience.