Never Goin' Back Camila Morrone Maia MitchellYear: 2018
Director(s): Augustine Frizzell
Writer(s): Augustine Frizzell
Region of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Color, 85 mins

Synopsis: Jessie and Angela, high school dropouts, are taking a week off to chill at the beach. Too bad their house got robbed, rent’s due, they’re about to get fired, and they’re broke. (Source)

Never Goin’ Back is the unhinged, unapologetic stoner comedy we didn’t know we needed. Written and directed with feverish aplomb by Augustine Frizzell, the film’s a cinematic bender brimming with drugs, small town antics and female camaraderie. Within the drug-addled haze of its two heroines, Frizzell crafts an anthem for the zeitgeist, celebrating teen rebellion and an empowering female bond with equal ferocity. I mean, this film isn’t afraid to go there. The laughs range from all-out silly to complete gross-out, but spliced in between, is just enough sobering emotion to really make ends meet. Anchored by performances from Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone, Frizzell’s film is lightning in a bottle – it’s dangerous, irreverent, and a wild ride that we can’t look away from.

Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) are BFFs. When things kick off, Angela’s just surprised Jessie with an upcoming trip to the sunny beaches of Galveston, Texas. Problem is, Angela just blew their rent money to book the trip. To compensate, the girls need to pick up a week’s worth of extra shifts at the diner they work at. Of course, nothing is about to go as planned. After a hilariously botched robbery attempt, Angela and Jessie land themselves in jail, and things only get worse from there. All of a sudden, rent is due, the girls are about to lose their job, and Jessie’s brother Dustin (Joel Allen) keeps roping them into some pretty asinine schemes. It’s going to be a rough week and then some.

With the chemistry of her do-or-die duo front and center, Frizzell throws Angela and Jessie through the ringer. Anything that can go wrong will, and from minute-to-minute, the film’s snowballing lunacy dares us to look away even as it knows we can’t. While the film’s surface offers an aggressively silly odyssey through the mundane, Angela and Jessie’s whacked out perspective takes things to subversive heights. On a deeper level, Frizzell allows these women to be who they are without consequence. This untethered view never forces Angela and Jessie to conform to archetypes forced upon them by the viewer, or those around them. Forgoing fake hallmark sentiment, the film’s blend of potent edibles, existential malaise and poorly planned schemes ends up being a genuine tribute to friendship and uninhibited femininity.

Never Goin' Back review Camila Morrone Maia Mitchell Kyle Mooney Joel AllenIn terms of performances, Mitchell and Morrone are indispensable to what make the film so fun, leaping off the screen and pulling us into their vividly absurd world. Both women are perfect for each other, an instantly classic duo who command the story like two whirlwinds wrecking everything in their path. Together, these woman are the film’s backbone, adding an understated warmth to compliment the film’s unabashed raunch. Elsewhere, Joel Allen and Kyle Mooney stand out as the duo’s’ unwitting roommates, themselves getting into all kinds of trouble, while Marcus M. Mauldin’s Roderick provides an empathetic employer who nevertheless won’t stand for slackers. Atheena Frizzell also leaves a mark, playing a fellow colleague of Angela and Jessie who can’t wait to see them fall.

There’s a lot going on in Never Goin’ Back. Whether it’s the way Frizzell deconstructs her duo’s femininity in reference to those around them, or the way she captures a microcosm that’s focused fiercely in the here and now, the film packs in ideas big and small in its relentless, brief, runtime. The through line that glues it all together, besides the film’s somehow magnetic shocks, is an honesty that feels earned. These are two women who want nothing more than to be themselves, have fun, get high and see their small town in the rear view. Nothing is gonna stop them, and nothing else matters in what equates to a film that’s as freeing as it is gleefully irreverent.

SG