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The Beach Bum

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
The Beach Bum Movie Poster Image
Booze, bongs, and breasts galore in "drugs are fun" comedy.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

None of the messages could be considered positive. Movie suggests that getting high leads to creative genius, that life exists sheerly for pleasure (even at others' expense), that there are no real consequences for poor behavior.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No role models here. All characters indulge in unethical to downright illegal behavior. 

Violence

Fatal but not gory head-on collision. Shark attack leads to comically graphic injury. Guns on display; one man accidentally shoots loaded handgun. A boat blows up with man and animal on board.

Sex

Moondog and his wife have lots of graphic sex, sexual encounters, explicit sexual conversations -- sometimes with each other, most often with others. Women (including Moondog's wife) exist as sexual accessories, are often topless/barely dressed, hanging on men. Parents talk to their adult daughter about their sexual experiences.

Language

Tons of extreme profanity: "a--hole," "bitch," "f--k," "s--t." A family constantly puts down their daughter's husband as "limp d--k" and "closet case." Lots of locker room talk involving crude/offensive language: "c--k," "gangbang," "pecker," "p---y," "jizz pipe," etc. Sexual language is used around children, even after they make it clear they'd like it to stop.

Consumerism

Characters are ostentatiously wealthy; expensive car brands including Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, McLaren are featured. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character is almost always high and usually using some kind of substance, often many at one time. Beer, champagne, alcohol, marijuana are most frequently seen; joints seem to grow in size throughout film. Someone is constantly smoking something, including cigarettes, vaping. Moondog tries to buy acid and snorts cocaine several times, also giving some to another character's "coke-addicted parrot." Beer is poured into a cat's milk. A 22-year-old smokes pot with her dad.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Beach Bum is a comedy by Harmony Korine, who also directed the raunchy, over-the-top Spring Breakers. It focuses on a drug-addled, drunk philanderer named Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) who earns prestige and profit from his self-absorbed misdeeds. Every kind of parental concern is in full force here, especially the ideas that drug use brings out your creativity and that money can buy a lack of responsibility or concern for others. Even after Moondog's wife dies in a car accident while driving under the influence, he still drives, boats, and flies while either he or the pilot is smashed (which is most of the time). The sexual acts are graphic, the drug use is prolific (pot, cocaine, and more), the language is constant and crude ("f--k," "s--t," and much more), and the messages are appalling. Zac Efron co-stars as a preacher's son who thinks he's found a spiritual loophole -- i.e., that it's fine for him to commit crimes like attacking and robbing an elderly disabled man because Jesus already died for our sins. Other than Moondog's daughter, most of the women in the film are topless sexual accessories who seem to exist only for a man's pleasure. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 year old Written byLeofilmer June 30, 2019

A waste of time

Vulgar, stupid and full of sex drugs, sex and strong language.
Adult Written byAnonymos June 26, 2019

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In THE BEACH BUM, Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) is a poet for whom the party never stops; his motto is "fun is the gun." But when his rich wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher), dies in a car crash, she tries to motivate him to greatness through her will: He's cut off immediately until he produces another book. Moondog keeps the party going and the drugs flowing while he looks to write one more volume of artistic merit.

Is it any good?

Just like being at a party with a friend who's obliterated, this comedy is occasionally funny but mostly annoying. Yes, McConaughey stars in a role that the real-life bongo drummer seemed destined to play: a womanizing, burnout poet who's loved by all and floats through life without a care in the world. But Moondog really doesn't care about anything: not keeping up with his daughter, staying faithful to his wife, staying out of jail, or writing his next book. He's only committed to having fun, and it would seem that he's high on life -- except that he's constantly high on everything else. Life is a nonstop party, and the audience is pulled into Moondog's haze. 

In The Beach Bum, director Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) has made another movie with outrageous, hedonistic characters who live in total excess. The worry is how all that might rub off on younger viewers. For instance, Moondog and his wife marry off their daughter and refer to her groom as "limp d--k" -- to his face. When one character uncomfortably brings up the time when he behaved inappropriately around Moondog's daughter, Moondog says he didn't mind. When asked why he invited a gang of homeless people to trash and destroy his own mansion, Moondog responds, "Uh ... BOREDOM!" And, when Moondog is talking to his sleazy agent (Jonah Hill, sporting a ridiculous Southern accent), a comment is made that seems to sum up the movie's perspective: that the best part of being rich is "you can be just horrible to people, and they have to take it." But here's the kicker: As a moviegoer, you don't. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Moondog and his family's attitude toward life. How does Moondog and Minnie's lifestyle affect their daughter? Do you think the consequences are realistic? If not, what do you think the real-life consequences would be?

  • How is substance use/abuse depicted in the film? Is Moondog an addict? Does the film glamorize drug and alcohol use? 

  • Flicker says constantly that people have a free pass to be as terrible as they want because Jesus already died for our sins. Do you agree?

  • How does the movie handle sex, nudity, and innuendo? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • What do you think the movie's message is? What audience is it aimed at? How can you tell?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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