Harmony Korine, who is the filmmaking equivalent to Florida, is finally following up his last feature, 2012’s Spring Breakers, with The Beach Bum, which actually looks like a real movie? At least, it looks about as straight forward as anything Korine has made. This is the guy, after all, who made Trash Humpers. He’s not always in it just for the characters and the stories. Korine likes to provoke. But The Beach Bum looks like a proper movie, that people are meant to enjoy. It’s a new look for Korine.
It stars Matthew McConaughey as “Moondog”, who looks like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson, Wooderson, and Florida Man, aka, the role McConaughey was always meant to play. Is he even acting? Or is this just McConaughey on a day off? If you told me Matthew McConaughey spent his downtime lounging around a boat in a floral robe, playing a snake-draped bongo, I wouldn’t doubt it for a second, because that sounds like exactly how Matthew McConaughey spends his downtime. (The bongo definitely seems like an intentional reference.)
Moondog appears to be some kind of writer, and there seems to be a rehab subplot, and then some kind of redemption arc. At first glance, this barely looks like a Harmony Korine movie, because he’s usually more subversive than “redemption narrative”. I’m sure there is more to The Beach Bum than is shown in this trailer, but this could also be a legit attempt at broader appeal on Korine’s part. Spring Breakers has its fans, as all of Korine’s work does, but he’s never been particularly concerned with his commercial appeal. Making a movie starring McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Jonah Hill, Isla Fisher, and Zac Efron is not what an uncommercial director does. It’s just an intriguing new angle for Korine. I’m interested to see how it plays out—his movies can be hard to love.