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Laramie Movie Scope: The Beach Bum

Living a life of ease in the Keys

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 8, 2020 – Moondog (played by Matthew McConaughey) is a famous author much beloved by the literati as well as the homeless wastrels in the Florida Keys. When his wife (who completely funds his laid back lifestyle) calls to ask him to attend his daughter's wedding, Moondog declines, declaring he is a “bottom feeder” who belongs in the Keys, not in his wife's (played by Isla Fisher of “Nocturnal Animals”) upscale Miami neighborhood.

Moondog lives on his boat in the Florida Keys, usually accompanied by beautiful women and plenty of booze and drugs. He lounges around all day and all night on the boat or on shore, giving impromptu poetry recitals in bars and on the beach. He seems to always be intoxicated with booze or drugs. His life is quite a strange trip.

He arrives on time for his daughter's wedding (she's played by Stefania LaVie Owen of “Krampus”) and embarrasses her fiancé (played by Joshua Ritter) by grabbing his crotch during the ceremony and calling him “limp dick.” He is not upset when he discovers his good friend Lingerie (Snoop Dog) is having an affair with his wife. Moondog and his wife end up going for a drunken drive after the ceremony, resulting in a car accident which causes her death (she was driving). Moondog escapes without a scratch.

After her death, Moondog finds out that his source of money has been cut off. His wife's will stipulates that he can only inherit half her fortune if he finishes the novel he has been working on. After getting in trouble with the law, he is sentenced to a year of rehabilitation, but soon escapes with a fellow prisoner who is even crazier than he is, the pyromaniac Flicker (Zac Efron of “The Greatest Showman”).

Moondog and Flicker escape from rehab in a golf cart, then assault and rob a handicapped man, and steal a motorboat at a wedding. They part company and Moondog escapes to the Keys with the aid of Lingerie and a pontoon plane carrying a huge cache of drugs and money, piloted by a blind, stoned pilot. He ends up with a seedy cruise boat captain calling himself Captain Wack (Martin Lawrence of the “Bad Boys” movies). His first cruise ends up badly when Captain Wack goes swimming with sharks, which he mistakes for dolphins.

Moondog has more outrageous adventures and successes, while evading police and never paying any penalties for the crimes he committed after his escape from rehab. He tells his agent, Lewis (Jonah Hill of “War Dogs”) that the secret to his literary success is freedom and happiness, lots of women, alcohol and drugs. That is what inspires him to write. This doesn't seem very realistic, but then again, this story is kind of like that of a real life famous writer named Hunter S. Thompson (“The Rum Diary” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”).

The outrageous adventures of Moondog and Lingerie are funny, a lot like other stoner comedies like “Up in Smoke” (1978). The problem with the movie is the more serious elements, like the death of Moondog's wife, and smashing a bottle over the head of a man in a wheelchair, taking his money and leaving him helpless on the ground. These are serious things, but are not treated seriously, or seriously enough, in the movie. These things are dismissed too easily by Moondog and by the movie. That bothered me.

Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dog both seemed to be having a lot of fun in this movie, and they both turn in good performances, which may not have been much of an acting stretch for them. This is a funny, easygoing stoner comedy highlighting Moondog's hedonistic, drug-fueled, worry free, guilt-free lifestyle. The cinematography, by Benoît Debie, is reminiscent of the sun-drenched, red and pastel hued tones of “Miami Vice” (1984). This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2020 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]