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The Beach Bum [2019] Review – Freewheeling Poetry of the Excess

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In Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum – His happiest and most accessible film till date; a hedonistic stoner who was once a well-respected poet faces an existential crisis. His idea of facing the odds is not by crying and fighting the downward spiral but by taking the other way around. In his quest for excess, he often unlocks that his creative juices can only flow through thoughts of enjoying life. In any world that realistically portrays life, this would sound like a bad idea. But in Korine’s world – Where the foolish get the cake, it feels entirely plausible.




Everything and nothing belongs to Moondog when the film kick-off at the shore. He is simply intoxicating himself and strolling past the streets when he witnesses a cat merely perching over a pedestal. He calmly befriends it and brings it home. He then feeds it some of the food that he is having and garnishes it with his own beer. The next morning they become the best of friends without any prior connection. This pretty much sums up Moondog’s (or any stoner’s) life. This is a life of excess and everyone is happy being high.

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This scattershot plotted and freewheeling Korine advent becomes an ode to the spirit of the people who want to be artistically free. In the realm of the American dream, Moondog’s character might sound sexist and overly stupid. But within Korine’s neon-drenched Florida, every excess is served with the love for doing life doggy style. Moondog is a pot-smoking local legend near the beach. The boats give him strength and the hot women a sense of vision. Poetry flows out of him due to the love he has for everyone.

The Beach Bum

Nothing beats and conflicts his livelihood. Except when his wife Minnie asks him to come back home for their daughter’s wedding. A little skeptical to notch-back on his drugged-up state,  Moondog anywho goes on the quest for the love for his daughter and wife. Things start to become blurrier when the now normal Moondog state is triggered when he learns that Minnie is having an affair with one of his friend Lingerie (Snoop Dogg). We also learn that eventually, he must complete the best book of his life and go to rehab. Moondog who is not used to routines thus faces a minor setback.




Harmony Korine is known to have loose, assorted vignette-like sequences in his narrative. The Beach Bum is no different. However, the editing in his newest film feels jarring even for Korine’s standards. One can simply argue that this fits right into the scattershot life that Moondog lives. But the editing makes the narrative feels so dense that the overall impact or the hilariousness of portrayal gets diluted. The film is a quest between monetary happiness and momentary fame. All the while burning the American Dream and living the senseless.

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The Beach Bum never promises big-ass pieces of wisdom or takeaway metaphors because it is so high on its own self-reflectiveness. It is just an embodiment of the rebellious nature of both Moondog as a character and Korine as an independent filmmaker. Matthew McConaughey plays a stoner version of himself and complete revels in the extremeness of Moondog. I mean, the character wins a fucking Pulitzer Prize for writing about his dick. So, go figure!

★★★1/2

The Beach Bum Trailer

The Beach Bum Release Date – March 29, 2019
Links – IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes

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