By Chris Nashawaty
August 01, 2018 at 05:26 PM EDT
Never Goin' BackCamila Morrone and Maia Mitchell
Credit: Clay Grier/A24

Never Goin' Back

  • Movie

The universe of stoner buddy comedies has been almost exclusively a male one. So I suppose the fact that the heroes of writer-director Augustine Frizzell’s Never Goin’ Back are two broke girls represents some small baby step of progress. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to recommend about the movie beyond its gender flip.

Pitched somewhere between the raunchy, dazed-and-confused high jinks of Harold and Kumar and the grimy, skid-row naturalism of Spring Breakers, the film stars Maia Mitchell (The Fosters) and Camila Marrone (Death Wish) as Angela and Jessie — two inseparable high school dropouts waiting tables at a Texas pancake house and stretching to pay the rent in a fleabag house they share with Angela’s dim, wannabe drug-dealer brother (Joel Allen) and his cluelessly horny pal (SNL’s Kyle Mooney). The two leads have chemistry and a rebellious sort of charisma. Too bad they’re given such wheezy clichés to work with.

For a movie starring women and written and directed by one, Never Goin’ Back seems almost sadistically hell-bent on putting Angela and Jessie through a non-strop wringer of degrading situations, piling on one self-inflicted humiliation after the next. Through a mix of bad luck and worse decisions, they are (in no particular order) wrongly tossed in jail, racked with incontinence with no toilet paper in sight, slut-shamed by an old crank in a supermarket, and forced to rob a sandwich shop to recoup the money they’ve blown on a birthday vacation in Galveston they can’t afford.

There have been plenty of silly indie comedies that have taken a similar path to cult status. But rarely do they have so little wit or sympathy for their characters. It’s honestly hard to tell if Frizzell even really likes the women she’s created. If all of that weren’t bad enough, the final 20 minutes of the film throws whatever compassion or concern it’s built up out the window and spirals into a disgusting, over-the-top orgy of diarrhea and projectile vomit gags. Yes, Never Goin’ Back proves that women can be as crass and irresponsible and unlikable as dudes. Now what? C-

Never Goin' Back

  • Movie
  • R
  • Augustine Frizzell