March 25, 2019

GENRE | Matthew McConaughey Smokes 'The Beach Bum'

"You know I gotta go low to get high."
Matthew McConaughey Harmony Korine | The Beach Bum

Imagine following the Dude character's day-to-day exploits without any of The Big Lebowski's story all set against the backdrop of the seedy but shiny South Florida coast. That's essentially what filmmaker Harmony Korine's debaucherously shaggy stoner comedy opus, The Beach Bum, starring Matthew McConaughey feels like.

As the perpetually hedonistic burnout former poet Moondog, a transformative McConaughey revels in all the sleazy antics and fun Korine crisply displays on screen. We follow his misadventures from the Florida Keys to Miami—drinking, smoking, and fornicating his way through any undesirable element he encounters along his way. It's such an otherworldly, naturalistic performance, you'd swear McConaughey really was this likeable degenerate in real-life.

For what it's worth, the film has a murderer's row of would-be stoner talent including a very flighty Isla Fisher as Moondog's indulgent, slightly estranged (and very rich) wife who provides some much-needed energy around the very loosely plotted happenings. She kind of anchors the very minimal sense of any character grounding the film has beyond the endless montages of hedonism or debauchery.

Korine offers possibly the best ever use of rapper Snoop Dogg (aka "Lingerie") as essentially a heightened, fictional version of himself who enables Moondog's many, many vices at every turn. Their natural chemistry alongside lounge lizard Jimmy Buffet (playing himself) really sizzles against the picturesque Florida landscape.

Matthew McConaughey Snoop Dogg Harmony Korine | The Beach Bum

Injected into the mix are some all-timer oddball extended turns from stars like Jonah Hill sporting a comically thick Colonel Sanders style Southern accent as Moondog's crazed literary agent, a jacked up Zac Efron with an impossibly hideous haircut in rehab, and a truly inspired Martin Lawrence with one of the more bizarre sequences as a self-proclaimed dolphin expert boat tour guide.

It's a fairly intoxicating (if meandering) ride where Korine really commits to the reality of his seedy characters all perfectly captured on stunning 35mm film from cinematographer BenoƮt Debie. Despite the inherent comedy of the performances, settings, and situations, the film takes actions seriously while mining their depictions for laughs.

The Beach Bum is exactly what it aims to be and not much else. McConaughey's very believable stoner act does wear thin but if you buy into his many illicit escapades, you're likely to be on board. Korine's talent for comically expressing a very specific yet self-indulgent Florida lifestyle continues with his reverence for unsavoury but appealing characters.

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