The Beach Bum Review

A Guy Who Talks About Movies
6 min readJul 11, 2019

Let’s talk about The Beach Bum.

When I first started doing these reviews all the way back in 2014, I didn’t have that much going on other than university. That’s why I think I got so angry about so many movies. After all, it’s very easy to get really worked up about something that matters so little in reality when it’s one of the few things you concentrate on. But now in 2019 I have jobs and responsibilities and film reviews are much lower down on the priority list. That’s why I don’t think I get so angry anymore when I see a terrible movie. But sometimes, one just gets up my nose and makes me so seething that I have to write the review right after seeing the movie.

The Beach Bum may not look terrible on paper. It stars Matthew McConaughey who is a very good actor and while we’re on the back end of his recent renaissance, he should still be putting in great performances. And you’ve also got plenty of other good actors like Isla Fisher, Zac Efron and Martin Lawrence. This shouldn’t be bad.

But yet it is. We’ll leave the big problem until later but one major issue is that the plot has no direction whatsoever. The crux of it is that Moondog, yes our main character is called Moondog, needs to finish is book of poetry. You will forget that is a thing because other than a typewriter being featured sometimes in transitional scenes, the movie often forgets about it. Because after all, we need lots of scenes of Moondog drinking and taking drugs. At the hour mark we’ve only had this scene about 46 times so of course instead of actually tackling the plot in hand, we should have another scene except maybe make the spliff a bit bigger. That’s where the variety is going to come from to keep things interesting. I get that the director is going for a relaxed tone so it is meant to just float from scene to scene but there’s a way you can do that while still making sure the plot progresses. And also a way to make sure that every scene is not just the different way to take drugs and have parties.

Because of this, the movie feels so long. This film clocks in at a quite short 92 minutes. It’s one of the shorter movies I’ve seen this year. But because it fails to have a point or anything interesting about it to make you want to see more, it feels like a four hour slog. Considering so much of the movie is just parties, I suppose it does feel right that it feels like you are at a party which you never wanted to go to, got dragged along to it despite your protestations and some how it was worse than you could have expected. But there’s a force keeping you there meaning you can’t leave and it’s the most unbearable thing in the world.

But you know, the worst part is the main character. Moondog is the worst, most hateable character since the twats from Entourage. He is a terrible human being and if this movie was just, there’d be a thirty minute sequence where everyone would get a chance to punch him in the face. And most of the people doing so would get dragged away by security because they tried to punch him a few more times as he really did deserve it. It’s not just that he spends all his time smoking and drinking and not doing anything interesting. It’s that he does so without caring how much he is ruining everyone else’s lives. He arrives late at his daughter’s wedding because he is having sex with a random person in a diner bathroom, arrives at the wedding making a scene by sexually assaulting the groom and saying he’s not good enough for his daughter, then goes on a bender that night which ends with his wife dying in a car crash. They don’t say or show it’s because of all the drinking and drugs, but they don’t tell you it isn’t either. He shows no remorse for any of this, and no one seems to care either. Throughout the movie he thieves, escapes rehab, commits vandalism but no one cares either and the movie continues to act is if he is likable some how.

The most galling thing is that the movie doesn’t just ask us to like Moondog, I’d merely just hate it if that was the case. It asks us to think of him as a genius, which makes me want to set fire to things. Throughout the movie, characters hail as him as a great, one of the best human beings of all time instead of rightly judging him as the scum that collects at the bottom of the bath. They seem to think his poetry is special and world changing. Now I’m not a poet, and don’t I just know it, and I’m no poetry critic either but I can tell you that his work is not that good. It’s not terrible but it isn’t exactly the groundbreaking stuff that changes you like they’ve been saying it is throughout the movie. There’s one he does at the end which is about him admiring his penis because it’s been in his wife a few times that day which is on a similar level to the drunk tweets I see on a Friday night. You know who you are.

And yet him being a rubbish poet and a loathsome human being, it does that Entourage thing of everything being amazing for him. Spoilers here but he completes his book of poetry despite spending more time smoking than he did on his typewriter and of course, it’s the greatest thing in the world. The entire Earth stops to read it because it’s just that amazing. He wins a Pulitzer and even gets a prize ceremony despite the fact a Wetherspoons wouldn’t let him in because of the state he’s in. This is the party of the movie where he’s started to crossdress because it helps him evade the police who are after him after he escaped rehab. The police don’t show up to this presumably well-advertised Pulitzer event because they are presumably also as high as a kite. I compare it to Entourage because it’s the similar principle of rewarding and hauling just a loathsome person that I’d cross a country to avoid in real life.

The Beach Bum is up there for one of the worst movies I’ve seen since I started reviewing movies. It is just loathsome from all angles and not even Snopp Dogg basically playing himself and a half decent soundtrack can save it. Matthew McConaughey is at his most hateable and he should be ashamed of himself for even thinking that this was a part worth spending any amount of time on. I know some people might say that this is a weed movie so you should get high to watch it but if you need a mind altering drug in order to enjoy a movie, it is absolute crap. I’m not even going to make a bad weed joke to finish this, I just want to say how terrible it is and that everyone involved should make a televised apology as soon as possible.



A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.