By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The stoner buddy comedy is a movie subgenre that has nearly been done to death. However, how many of these flicks have females as their lead protagonists? Well, as far as I know, there haven’t been any. That is until now. With Never Goin’ Back, writer/director/editor Augustine Frizzell gives movie audiences a take on the stoner comedy that has been long overdue. The film is an uproarious tale of girls behaving badly and stupidly, but make no mistake. The sometimes raunchy and wild humor is intelligently written and executed by the cast and crew. Though the movie hasn’t exactly reinvented the genre, it sure has breathed some much needed fresh air and vitality into it.
Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone star as best buddies Angela and Jessie. These two high school dropouts attempt to scrape out a living by waiting tables at their local pancake house in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. When not slinging cakes and dealing with annoying customers, the two live a wild, free-spirited life of getting high and partying with their friends. Though they manage to have fun most of the time, the girls dream of getting away for a beach vacation.
Because they have limited funds, the best they can do is Galveston. In order to make that happen, though, Angela and Jessie have to work longer hours at their not so beloved restaurant. If they can just stay out of trouble and make their shifts, the Galveston trip will become a reality. Staying out of trouble has never been easy for the duo, though, and the fact that they live with Angela’s wannabe drug dealer brother (Ryan Allen) further complicates matters.
I had such a great time with this film. Augustine Frizzell has made such an entertaining and hilarious comedy with Never Goin’ Back that I could definitely go back to watch it again. While stoner comedies often have overtly cartoonish takes in their stories and characters, Frizzell’s world actually comes across as real and tangible. Though the scenarios are often riotous, they play out in realistic ways. I honestly don’t know if Frizzell drew some inspiration from real people she knows or has met, but I feel like if I were to travel to the rougher parts of Dallas or Fort Worth, I would run into some of these people. That’s how well Frizzell and her cast have developed these characters.
Both Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone deliver superb performances full of irresistible charm, incredible energy, and excellent comic timing. As Angela’s brother Dustin, Ryan Allen is giddily funny. Allen shares some fantastic screen time and chemistry with Matthew Holcomb and Kendall Smith who play Dustin’s buds Ryan and Tony. Last, but not least, SNL’s Kyle Mooney offers a very jocular turn as Dustin’s friend and other roommate Brandon.
So, just when critics and other movie audiences thought stoner comedies have grown old and tiresome, Augustine Frizzell gives the genre new life and a refreshing feminine voice. Though I am not completely convinced that Frizzell should make a sequel, Never Goin’ Back is a damn fine addition to pot-laden cinema. One doesn’t even have to be high to enjoy this movie. The writing, direction and acting are the only ingredients needed to make this cannabis dessert worth the trip.