This Matthew McConaughey Film Is the Perfect Film To Watch on 4/20

This Matthew McConaughey Film Is the Perfect Film To Watch on 4/20


The Big Picture

  • The Beach Bum
    stars Matthew McConaughey as a hedonistic poet, Moondog, in a mix of hilarity and heartbreak.
  • McConaughey’s performance as Moondog received critical praise despite mixed reviews of the film.
  • The film revolves around Moondog’s arrested development, selfishness, and journey to reconnect with his loved ones.

The Beach Bum is an irreverent stoner comedy written and directed by Harmony Korine, based on a coterie of strange individuals. Both hilarious and heart-wrenching, The Beach Bum is the perfect film to watch on 4/20, as Matthew McConaughey stars as the hedonistic, substance-abusing, nomadic poet named Moondog. Although way past his prime, he is still considered a local legend and languishes in arrested development while attempting to finish his latest book. While the film opened to mixed reviews, McConaughey’s performance as the ultimate hippie poet laureate has received almost universal critical praise.

The Beach Bum

The film follows the misadventures of Moondog, a rebellious and lovable rogue who lives life by his own rules in the sun-drenched locales of Florida. As a hedonistic poet, he drifts through a series of escapades surrounded by eccentric characters, embracing a lifestyle of excess, revelry, and profound self-expression.

Release Date
March 29, 2019

Harmony Korine

95 minutes

Main Genre

Harmony Korine

You Gotta Go Low To Get High.

What Is ‘The Beach Bum’ About?

The Beach Bum is very much inspired by the Jimmy Buffet song, “How A Pirate Looks at 40.” Like the movie, the song is about a man who has grown past his prime, looking back on a colourful life full of wine, women, weed, and song. This is Moondog, a brilliant poet and great man, but now a caricature of his former self; he might be loveable, but he’s really just a child who has now grown old. In the film’s opening scenes, he wanders around dressed like a surfer clown, as his genius and habituations have created a wall of drugged-out fuzz so all-enveloping that he drifts through the world, nearly oblivious to other people. He finds a cat and takes it to a bar, has a truly heroic amount of sex with strangers, and while this man seems to be doing a lot, he is most assuredly no longer writing. And yet, while one would hesitate to call this man lonely as he recites old poetry to a bar full of receptive strangers, there is an apparent disconnect between the poet and his audience, as well as his loved ones in the film.

His wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher), is disgustingly rich and has been handling Moondog’s finances for what seems to be his entire career. Minnie loves her husband and understands his unhinged genius, but spends almost all of her time apart from him. Moondog is a rambling man who has more or less become a part of the scenery of Key West, Florida, which plays into his main flaws: he’s supremely self-absorbed and selfish. He doesn’t even realize that Minnie has been having a nearly decades-long affair with Lingerie (Snoop Dog), a retired singer and part-time drug smuggler.


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Minnie dies of a drug overdose on the eve of their daughter, Heather’s (Stefania LaVie Owen), wedding, leaving half of her estate to Moondog on the condition that he finishes his book, which will eventually become the poet’s masterpiece. While it’s a sweet deal, he’s resistant to any structure or obligation, and Minnie—knowing this—made the caveat in her will because she knew Moondog he would only squander her wealth without ever producing his great work of art. The aging pirate must now look at himself at 40, peering through the hedonist fog of his life to understand himself and what it was that truly made his work excellent. It’s time for the old salty dog to grow up, take the initiative, and, in doing so, reconnect with his art and those most dear to him.

Matthew McConaughey Plays the Ultimate Man-Child In ‘The Beach Bum’

Moondog’s arrested development is, of course, a product of his maternal relationship. At Heather’s wedding, Minnie confesses to her daughter that she used to tell Moondog’s mother that she coddled him too much. This checks out, as he’s unable to accept a situation where he’s not the center of attention. Moondog shows up at his daughter’s wedding during the ceremony in disastrous fashion, rolling an elderly woman in a wheelchair off the stage and into the wall, then mauling Heather with kisses. He makes his daughter’s special day about him, having fallen so deep into his hedonism that he no longer has the poetic objectivity he once had.

Moondog is not so much observing things as leaning on his past fame so that he can have a good time. He’s a fighter out of shape, so self-absorbed that he doesn’t notice his wife’s affair until the last moments before she dies. Perhaps his lack of responsibility worked for him when he was young, sharper, and better looking, but time moved on, and so did the lives of those around him.

Moondog’s daughter loves her father, but she simply cannot be his mother and take care of him after Minnie’s death. So, too, was Minnie thrust into the role of mother, taking care of the adult responsibilities of marriage and the household while Moondog did his own thing. This is why Minnie forbids him from using any of the family assets before the completion of his book; little boys do not understand responsibility, which is Minnie’s natural gift to Moondog. He will gain some independence through his merits, which includes completing his book.

Matthew McConaughey Plays the Role of a Lifetime in ‘The Beach Bum’

There is a passivity to the character of Moondog that is virtually transcendental, an unending and unbreakable belief that everything will work out; this pursuit of life at the cost of trying leads the character through his paces. It’s a frame that hangs exceptionally well on the actor, with McConaughey bringing a naturalism to the role that is all too believable. There’s something in that familiar drawl of his voice that sounds particularly perfect with a joint hanging out of his mouth. The ease with which McConaughey slinks around the film has a dizzying effect, reflecting the off-balance nature of the character and leaving the audience with a zen-like feeling that is all too compelling. In that same sense, Moondog is easily an extension of the actor’s psyche born during his breakthrough role in the coming-of-age stoner comedy, Dazed and Confused.

As Moondog, McConaughey paints a vivid portrait of a child grown old whose unflappable belief in his decadence is nothing short of hilarious and endearing. This film is a love letter to the wild, stoner artists who can find beauty in the chaos and, as a result of that, has created the role of a lifetime for McConaughey.

The Beach Bum is available to watch on Max in the U.S.

Watch on Max


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