Review: Stoner comedy 'Never Goin’ Back' earns its stripes (and laughs)
Courtesy of A24
If the popular song “Young, Dumb and Broke” by Khalid were to be adapted into a feature length film, it might look something like “Never Goin' Back.”
“Back” follows two high school dropouts, and lovers, Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) in the dog days of summer, hustling their ways on the streets of Texas, trying to pay their rent and save up for an exotic weekend getaway. But everything that can go wrong does and the pair gets busted for drugs after Angela's idiotic, yet, comical big brother (Joel Allen) has a “misunderstanding” with one of his homies – the police get called accidentally and discover the girls stash of weed.
Out of work and no money to their name, they concoct a get rich scheme that may or may not involve their pervy roommate (played by “Brigsby Bear” standout Kyle Mooney). The results, although familiar in every sense of the word, are surprisingly effective. Despite the potty humor teetering on the edge of absurdity towards the final stretch, the lead performances by Mitchell and Jessie should be decent enough to get you through the last leg. In addition, I had some lingering questions after my viewing, like how they're 16 and 17 with hardly any adult presences in their lives, nor do we found out where they came from – or what brought them together.
The film has been written and directed by Augustine Frizzell (an actress known for her work in “A Ghost Story” and “Pete's Dragon”) and she's in tune with the hip jargon, and satirical rants these girls constantly drone on about. The best part, and this comes from a more political standpoint, has to be that Frizzell doesn't exploit the relationship at the epicenter of the picture. Besides one brief flashback, we don't see the two leads kiss or so much as engage in any type of sexual activity. Instead, the relationship is just between the two girls, without all the physical contact to distract viewers from the, often times, howlingly funny shenanigans on display. Including a sequence where the girls accidentally eat a few too many hash brownies and proceed to their place of employment as though nothing has happened. If not for Mitchell and Jessie being so dedicated to the humor, 'Goin' Back' would've lagged heavily.
“Never Goin' Back,” on the surface, has the appearance of another low-ball stoner comedy, but ends up being a sweetly natured buddy flick, that would do the likes of Cheech and Chong very proud (the girls probably could smoke them under the table too). Plus the script is exceptionally strong and builds to a satisfying conclusion that I guarantee audiences won't see coming.
Take a chance on this one.