The movie stars Matthew McConaughey as Moondog (or rather as a “glistening slab of man,” as The Hollywood Reporter describes him) and follows his life as a rebellious Floridian burnout. Revisit the trailer above.
McConaughey’s performance appears to be one of the few things critics can agree on, with many praising a performance that apparently recalls the actor’s breakout role in Richard Linklater’s 1993 cult indie hit Dazed and Confused.
When it comes to the plot, however, reviews vary from calling it “joyous” to an “epic goof.” Check out our roundup of the reviews below.
Kristy Puchko, The Guardian
“Whether it’s the recklessness of the jaded New York teens in Kids, or the neon-colored rampage of bikini-clad co-eds in Spring Breakers, Korine dares audiences to revel and empathize with characters who risk being written off as cartoons or cautionary tales. In The Beach Bum, the writer-director turns his observational eye and provocateur verve to a Miami community of misfits, who chase bliss in sex, drugs and misadventures. The result is a film that is joyous, outrageous and slyly mournful.”
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“Korine’s visual gifts are on full display, capturing both the opulence of Florida and its scuzzy side in a way that finds beauty in both. And he once again uses music brilliantly, finding the right song for every occasion with an odd blend of everything from Van Morrison to The Cure (twice!) to Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is,” which plays in its entirety in a fantastic scene that features Moondog and Minnie singing and dancing along to it. The song really sums up the themes of this funny, ultimately sweet movie. We’ve seen so many films that are angry about the state of the world in 2019. There’s something inspired about one that reminds us ‘if that’s all there is than let’s keep dancing.’”
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter
“As pungent, and ephemeral, as the weed smoke that wafts through its garishly gorgeous candy-colored frames, the latest — and lightest — offering from indie enfant terrible Harmony Korine won’t be for everyone. I, admittedly, had a hard time getting on its woozy wavelength. But The Beach Bum is a work of undeniable commitment and craft — a gonzo picaresque, soaked with booze and filled with gyrating, jiggling flesh, that will play well to the not-negligible segment of the population where cannabis lovers and cinephiles overlap.”
Brian Truitt, USA Today
“It isn’t good and it isn’t bad — it is, to borrow a fitting adjective, “all right.” But the film might as well be called ‘Matthew McConaughey: The Movie,’ as it casts McConaughey in a role seemingly tailor-made for his famous style and yet, like the actor himself, also upends those same expectations.”
Michael Nordine, IndieWire
“The Beach Bum [is] … like a half-remembered house party, you emerge having enjoyed yourself but quickly forget the details of what went on as you move on with your life.”
Katie Walsh, Nerdist
“As a narrative, The Beach Bum is a loose, episodic film that serves merely as a showcase for McConaughey’s acting… The strength of The Beach Bum is in its visuals, the vibe it captures as a mood board/tone poem… The story itself feels like an afterthought — one that could have used a bit more thought, truthfully.”
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
“Korine, the provocateur who wrote Kids and directed Spring Breakers, films The Beach Bum quite beautifully, implying he thinks this crap has some artistic merit. It doesn’t. What the flick has is a selfish louse of a main character, whom it insists we like. Moondog’s the kind of guy you don’t invite to a party because he might set your cat on fire, and then tell you to not freak out.”
Peter Debruge, Variety
“Simultaneously shaggy and hyper-stylized, The Beach Bum plays like a less-coked-out Scarface, the collected works of Charles Bukowski, and a Cheech & Chong movie all rolled up in one — an epic goof in which the cast (not just McConaughey but Snoop Dogg, Martin Lawrence, Jonah Hill, and Jimmy Buffett) play elaborate, semi-improvised caricatures of outlandish tropical fruits.”