The Beach Bum

Transgression made tedious

I’ve nothing against Harmony Korine really. I just don’t care for juvenile, self-described auteurs whose movies exist mainly to show off their alleged directorial skills.

Note: I’ve spent some time in south Florida and the Keys in the past decade, and while it’s fun for a while, I always start to find it tiring watching grown men act like children. Here’s a whole movie of little but precisely that. Also, “Margaritaville” gets old fast when you can hear it being sung (badly) simultaneously from three different Duval Street bars.

Mega-stoner Moon Dog (Matthew McConaughey) is an aging,  phenomenally self-involved, amoral, soulless and dishonorable tropical fruitcake who does pretty much whatever he likes and gets away with it because he’s very rich. Well, his wife (Isla Fisher) is. Everybody loves and admires him. It is not made clear why. Florida, right?

It seems the only direction McConaughey was given was, “act like a total asshole.” (One wonders if the actor had yet thought about a run for Texas governor before wasting his talent in this frat house doggerel. The visuals are not going to help with the evangelicals.) Snoop Dogg’s in it, too, playing (talk about stretching) a fellow rich stoner. Non of the characters is remotely likable. It’s like watching other people smoke dope.

A half hour in, Korine threatens to commit a career first —  introduce a plot — when rich wife dies in a Lamborghini crash, stipulating in her will that he will inherit all her millions only after finishing his book of poetry. False alarm. Moon Dog just goes on doing what he does. The ending was even more moronic than the rest of the film, but then again it was an ending. I watch a lot of bad movies, but I was angry with myself for wasting an hour and a half of my life on this pretentious drivel.

To be fair, Korine indeed possesses some prodigious visual gifts. I’m looking forward to what he’ll produce once he grows up and makes a real movie. (95 min)

The Beach Bum Japan release date: April 30, 2021