The Beach Bum (2019) – Review

The Beach Bum is now in theaters.

[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]

By David Cuevas

The Beach Bum is aimless cinema at its most refreshing. Famously known for his audacious perspectives on American minorities, Harmony Korine has proved himself as a class act in our modern age of 21st-century film. From Gummo to Trash Humpers, his divisive style never fails to amuse both lovers and haters of his films alike. With The Beach Bum, which in some regard may be Korine’s magnum opus with a cast ranging from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Academy Award Winner Matthew McConaughey, his vapid sense of time and rhythm, has created one of his most entertaining and enthralling yet.

The best way to describe The Beach Bum is that’s it’s essentially a Hong Sangsoo Stoner comedy. It’s aimless nature, similar to Sangsoo’s films, progresses with its characters rather than narrative. Manipulating a largely instrumental score, and focusing on one general area (in the case of The Beach Bum: Florida), Sangsoo’s common mumblecore ideologies clashed together in perfect unison, with Korine’s latest. The Beach Bum doesn’t have a plot, nor even narrative consequences. It’s a carefree, bafflingly raunchy and amusing look at the high life, that never fails to awe its viewers with pure bewilderment.

However, although the majority of scenes in The Beach Bum may have crossed the line, with no real negative impact, unfortunately, there are few scenes in the film where it’s the Korine’s direction felt masturbatory. Graphic/sensitive subject displayed on film isn’t the problem. It’s more so the execution of how the material is presented. It’s almost as if Korine is cheering on with Moondog and the majority of his humorous irresponsible actions. Moondog is a fun character, yet it’s no doubt that he’s flawed, and his outlook on life is certainly concerning. There comes a point in the film, where it’s difficult to interpret what Korine was attempting to say here; which largely comes with a cost, in which both the viewer is confused by the purpose of why The Beach Bum ever existed in the first place.

The Beach Bum certainly is fun, and overall an amusing watch (especially with the *possible* help of edibles and marijuana), yet it never reaches its full potential. As a character study, it’s effective at best. As a film, it’s a unique largely forgettable experience at worst. While most audiences will share a laugh or two, there’s not much commendable about the film. It’s gorgeously shot and performed, and not much else. When in doubt, watch a different stoner comedy… or Spring Breakers for that matter! Moondog can wait. He has another novel to write after all.

I give The Beach Bum a B-.