23
Mar
2019
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The Beach Bum

The Beach Bum

Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) is a liassez-faire beach rat-cum-poet whose best years are behind him. Forever coasting on the goodwill of strangers and the non-stop party atmosphere of his life, he is one day called up by his estranged wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher). Their daughter is getting married and Moondog is expected to attend their lavish reception. With his his chaotic jester persona in tow, fortunately the wedding survives, however fate delivers an unseen and sobering shock. Is the party over for Moondog or has it just begun for this nonsensical rambler on the run?

...will either sweep you up or leave you beached in bemusement.

Harmony Korine’s latest comedy comes at you on a very specific wavelength. Part chaos, part whimsy, its charms will either sweep you up or leave you beached in bemusement. It all depends on your expectations as you enter the pot-hazed world of its central character.

Louche and endearingly laid-back, Matthew McConaughey’s easy-going drawl slips easily into Moondog’s velvet patter. Stumbling from one scene to another, sponsored by a never-ending supply of alcohol, spliffs and blank paper from which to compose his poems, Moondog is, as he would have you take him. He doesn’t really care as long as he can enjoy “the party” for as long as possible. 

Crashing into the lives of a superb supporting cast, the film’s main draw is in the people Moondog meets during his drunken odyssey. Zac Effron plays a younger, indistinguishable rehab escapee. Martin Lawrence plays a Dolphin captain ferrying tourists into dangerous, uncharted waters and Snoop Dog is happy to riff on a thinly-veiled version of himself. However shorn of any excessive wardrobe or elaborate props with which to substantiate his character, all of the acting honours go to Jonah Hill. Savouring every sentence, his Bahamian-cum-South beach drawl is so pitch perfect, it eclipses every scene he’s in.

So, what starts out feeling like a fantasy, which eventually nudges itself into reality (albeit on its own stoner terms), Moondog’s cinematic swagger is an acquired taste. For a film that doesn’t change much in its depiction of a one-note hero whose raison d’être is to stay as high as possible, this drama doesn’t change that much. However if you’re looking a departure from the rat race financed by excessive charm and successive gulps of happenstance, then Moondog will happily invite you along for the ride.

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