The Beach Bum feels like a travelogue which paints its protagonist as a laid back literary genius who avoids responsibility, loafs around getting tans and balling anything that moves.
Charles Bukowski’s influence comes drifting in like a warm breeze through this thin slice of comedy drama. Writer of poetry, lover of women and imbiber of substances both alcoholic and otherwise, he remains revered in certain circles as one who broke the mould. If anything ties this film together it is Matthew McConaughey as Moondog who is one part Bukowski, two parts bohemian Beach Bum chic and one part literary maverick.
For a majority of the meandering narrative we follow him between bars, mansions and various lascivious hang outs as he encounters a colourful group of supporting characters. For the most part this star-studded cast which includes Jonah Hill and Isla Fisher seem to be just enjoying themselves. Only Hill and McConaughey bring character to the table while Fisher, Snopp Dogg and Martin Lawrence are playing thinly veiled versions of themselves.
The Beach Bum works in the main because of those Florida locations. As a story the idea of wasted talent, indulgent lifestyles and redemption has been done better. As the drama unfolds it has minimal impact meaning that you remain indifferent to what happens. McConaughey is clearly having a ball while everyone else is busy cashing their cheque. Direction is adequate while the writing from director Harmony Korine carries things along nicely, but ultimately there is a distinct lack of weight.
This feels like a travelogue which paints its protagonist as a laid back literary genius who avoids responsibility, loafs around getting tans and balling anything that moves. However Moondog’s surfer dude persona, moments of clarity and studied charisma keep him likeable throughout. What this film needed more than anything else however was a sense of urgency, unless Korine’s intention was to remain ambiguously profound, tie things up too neatly and find our hero as clueless as when he started.
Yes there is closure, yes there are moments of epiphany yet the point of The Beach Bum remains elusive. Aside from that eclectic soundtrack selection it will be easily forgotten and bought by a streaming service as an inoffensive background flick.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Harmony Korine
Written by: Harmony Korine
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence, Jonah Hill
Released: 2019 / Genre: Comedy
Country: USA / IMDB
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The Beach Bum is in select cinemas on October 25 and on digital download October 30.