The once proudly disreputable stoner comedy genre has become strangely genteel in the Judd Apatow era, featuring protagonists who eventually find their way off the couch and back into acceptable society. Those movies that still fully commit to the bit, however, can seem almost heroic. The smartly dumb Never Goin’ Back is a blissfully low-rent comedy that occasionally approaches the rarified, hazy air of the sainted first half of Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie. Absolutely no lessons are learned, thankfully.
The story follows a pair of 17-year-old ne’er-do-wells (Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone) living a perpetually blitzed existence in a Texas suburb. After impulsively blowing their rent money on an upcoming birthday trip to Galveston, they make a plan to work marathon shifts at the pancake house, and … oh, they’ve already screwed it up.
Making her feature-length debut as a writer/director, Augustine Frizzell finds a shambling, loose-limbed vibe immediately, generously giving the supporting characters small moments to shine (Marcus M. Mauldin is priceless as the pair’s long, long suffering boss), while also keeping the barely-there plot in motion. It all culminates in a fantastically gross sequence of bodily functions run amuck that might prompt even John Waters hold his lighter in the air. From a safe distance, hopefully.
What really makes Never Goin’ Back fizz, though, is the just-right chemistry between its two leads, who are downright hilarious as a sweetly undynamic duo who somehow become more likable while their actions become increasingly amoral. If you squint real hard, you can practically make out the cartoon Family Circus lines left in their wake.
For more information about Never Goin' Back—which screens on Sunday at Grand Illusion—click here. and other films, see Movie Times.