Serenity: is the most Matthew McConaughey movie ever. The Beach Bum: Hold my beer. The McConaissance is reborn with Harmony Korine’s latest film, where the persona of Matthew McConaughey is amplified to eleven.
Moondog lives life on his own terms and by his own rules. He’s a poet, well-regarded in the Keys and Miami, he skillfully plays the piano, and he does a lot of drugs…particularly weed. It’s difficult to describe the film’s plot because there really isn’t one. Yes, there are a couple significant events which have limited influence on the direction of the film, but they are in spoiler territory, so I won’t mention them. But the film isn’t about establishing a problem and finding a solution, it’s a character study. It avoids traditional Hollywood structure, and reflects the way Moondog lives his life, going in whatever direction it feels and only looking to have fun. The lows are short, and the highs are explosive, and that’s something I can appreciate.
If you take a quick look at Matthew McConaughey’s roles over the last couple years, you’ll notice he’s played some interesting characters to say the least, but I think his role as Moondog takes the cake for the wildest. If the long hair and exuberant outfits don’t give it away, then his perception of life and the world, his interactions with the people he meets, and his complete lack of sobriety will sell you on this point. But Moondog is more than your traditional stoner, he’s somehow a genius, or at least everyone in the movie believes so; and there is some wisdom to be gained from his perspective on how to live life, falling in line with hedonism, or the pursuit of pleasure. Moondog is an unrealistic character, he manages to avoid any consequences, and is even referred to as someone from another dimension within the film, but it is through his exaggerated faux existence that we, the audience, in this stress-inducing real world, can be reminded to take a load off every once in a while. And McConaughey gives the role his all, I cannot imagine someone who would do it better.
Another strong point of the film was its diverse supporting characters, played by a lot of fun actors/actresses. Isla Fisher plays nicely as Moondog’s foil, his wife, still a little crazy but also more realistic and grounded in expectations. Snoop Dogg has swagger. Jonah Hill, playing Moondog’s agent, does an accent reminiscent, some have said, of Foghorn Leghorn from Looney Tunes. Zac Efron is a complete nutcase with panini sideburns and likes to light things on fire. But my personal favorite was Martin Lawrence’s cameo as Florida’s worst dolphin tour guide, Captain Wack. He totally steals the scenes he is in and is hilarious. One of the successes of The Beach Bum is that it creates a central character who draws from each person he meets throughout the film, which brings life and energy to the screen and keeps the process from growing dull and repetitive.
The film’s visual aesthetic is another one of its impressive aspects. Cinematographer Benoit Debie uses all of the rainbow to produce this beautiful, indie feel, supported by a fun, southern beachy soundtrack, all representative of Moondog’s euphoria. However, the film smartly counterbalances this with a grungy feel at times, emphasizing Moondog’s naivete to the world around him.
The Beach Bum is certainly not for everyone, not even close. If you are a big Matthew McConaughey fan like me, I think you have to go see this film because I can’t stop thinking about it. I give this non-stop debauchery of a film an 8/10.