By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Six years after Harmony Korine wowed and probably offended audiences at 2013’s SXSW with Spring Breakers, the rebellious director chose the Austin festival to debut his latest offering. Much like the director and the characters in some of his previous films, the titular protagonist of The Beach Bum is a fringe character who lives, works and plays by his own rules. Who else other than Matthew McConaughey could play such a smooth-talking rebel such as Moon Dog? After all, the actor kickstarted his career as Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, another smooth talking rebel who believes in “L-I-V-I-N.” And in a wilder way, McConaughey’s Moon Dog might be an example of who Wooderson aspires to be.
Moon Dog, for some of his adult life, has had it all to easy. After achieving success as a published poet, the artist marries his love Minnie (Isla Fisher), a wealthy heiress who allows Moon Dog to behave as wildly as he likes. So for severral years, the once acclaimed artist has spent his time drinking, doing various drugs and having lots of sex with Minnie and other partners. When an unexpected tragedy changes his fortune, it is up to Moon Dog to put his talents to work to get back on his feet again.
Once again, writer/director Harmony Korine delivers a movie that is more of a sensory and visual experience rather than a heavily written and developed narrative feature. This formula works much better for Spring Breakers than it does for The Beach Bum. Still, Korine’s latest might actually be his most accessible movie. That said, the director still aims to shock and disturb with some provocative beats and sequences. Overall, this movies gets a little too lost in its madness and chaos to remain completely coherent. However, it is definitely a wild and entertaining ride.
Matthew McConaughey seems born to play this role too. His natural charisma works overtime here and really helps sell thos character. Isla Fisher also turns on the charm and portrays his wife Minnie with much zeal. Another person who seems born to join this wild joint is Snoop Dogg who amusingly portrays Moon Dog’s buddy Lingerie, or Rie for short. Another hilarious actor, Martin Lawrence, gets to steal some scenes as Moon Dog’s friend Captain Wack.
So, I am going to make an educated guess that those who abhor Harmony Korine’s movies will not like this film, despite it accessiblity. Fans of the provocateur will either love it or feel that it is a tad too close to the mainstream. Sure, this movie does feature a very charming protagonist, but this is very much a Harmony Korine film–for better or for worse.