Pros: cinematography by Benoit Debie; plot (which quickly fades) Cons: flat tone of the story; meaningless events; everyone idolizes the main character for no reason “Idle Dance” / The Beach Bum
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Matthew McConaughey (Moon Dog), Snoop Dogg (Langerie), Isla Fisher (Minnie), Stefania Owen (Heather), Jonah Hill (Lewis), Martin Lawrence (Captain Whack), Zac Efron (Flicker), etc.
Iconoclast Studios, Anonymous Content, Le Grisbi Productions
Year of release 2019
The film The Beach Bum was released in Ukrainian with the excellent title “Empty Dance”. You probably couldn’t think of a better description of this film. It has all the possible shades of party fun, which quickly begin to fade in the eyes of the audience due to the emptiness of the film’s semantic load.
The main character is a poet whom everyone calls Moondog (Matthew McConaughey). His life is filled with a philosophy of hedonism and a complete absence of any worries. The Moon Dog surrounds himself with women, alcohol and drugs every day. Sometimes he is distracted by his typewriter, typing a couple of poetic lines, and occasionally thinks about his family. However, family responsibilities do not burden him. The daughter is already quite grown up, and his wife Minnie (Isla Fisher) idolizes Moondog’s talent, although she herself is cheating on him with her husband’s best friend, the rich singer Langeri (Snoop Dogg). While talking, each of them smokes marijuana, and does not even think about some sort of showdown.
The Moon Dog does not think about the future until one incident confronts him with a fact – if he wants to keep his wealth, the poet must write and publish his book. But Moondog is not one of those who is used to working for results, and certainly not some fool who is ready to give up an idle life.
The entire film The Beach Bum is shot in bright colors: there are glare of the sun, sunsets, neons, and fireworks. The tape offers the atmosphere of an eternal holiday, complementing it with a beautiful view of the ocean. The film owes such a rich picture to cinematographer Benoit Debie, who worked on the dance horror film “Ecstasy” by Gaspar Noe. This is where the merits of the film end; in fact, there is no one else to praise.
Director-screenwriter Harmony Korine does not bother at all with attempts to introduce the internal conflict of the main character into the plot or at least reveal a dramatic event (which was nevertheless included in the script). He also doesn’t particularly follow the genre boundaries of comedy, turning his film into a cinematic worship of all kinds of pleasures. Which has a right to exist, but gets boring pretty quickly with its monotony. One gets the impression that a music video is being shown on the big screen (this at least justified the appearance of Snoop Dogg), which lasts an hour and a half.
In ninety minutes, Matthew McConaughey’s Moondog manages to consume large doses of drugs, while Snoop Dogg’s character chuckles encouragingly next to him. During the production of The Beach Bum the atmosphere was much the same. Before the premiere of the film, both actors came to Jimmy Kimmel Live and talked about how Snoop slipped McConaughey real marijuana on the set: he got pretty high, forgetting all his English words.
No one doubts that the actors enjoyed the filming process, but the result of their work turned out to be meaningless. After True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club, this role of Matthew McConaughey looks ridiculous, although something really could have come of the idea of showing the life of a free poet. Failed. McConaughey is just having a good time on set, and Harmony Korine doesn’t even try to use his acting skills. In the same way, the director brings Jonah Hill and Zac Efron to the screen – their characters are simply useless.
The main character, Moon Dog, raises the most questions. Everyone adores him and admires his talent (we will never see evidence of it). Everything he says automatically causes delight. Everything Moondog does, he gets away with. His life resembles a big holiday without a hangover that never ends. In these moments, the script is as far removed from reality as possible – in it, Harmony Korine glorifies the actions of the Moondog for no reason, other characters seem to exist only to smile and indulge the poet.
Explaining the idea of his film, Harmony Korine said in an interview that he wrote the script based on the characters of those with whom he hung out in the tropical islands of the Florida Keys. Most likely, their life was not as ideal as the protagonist’s everyday life. Korine had every chance and resources to make a good satire out of The Beach Bum, but instead the film resembles an adaptation of the director’s beach dream. And she gets pretty tired.
the film quickly descends into monotony, reminiscent of one of Snoop Dogg’s videos. The Beach Bum was probably a lot more fun to film than to watch.