Move over Harold and Kumar: Angela and Jessie are in town. In “Never Goin’ Back,” the classic stoner comedy genre is given a lively twist by featuring two teen females as the lead. The result is a refreshing, modern take on a fun best buddy / coming-of-age story.
Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) are high school dropouts who dream of escaping their waitressing jobs at a run-down Texas diner. Jessie’s 17th birthday is only a few days away, and the girls spend their days fantasizing about a luxurious weekend spent at the beach — in Galveston. When Angela secretly spends the last of the rent money on their dream getaway, the pair get into a series of misadventures as they devise schemes to raise the cash they need to keep a roof over their heads.
The easy rapport between the two leads is so natural and unassuming that you’d guess they’ve been lifelong besties. They may be incredibly dumb and immature, but their flawed friendship is filled with a feeling of authenticity and is packed with big-screen chemistry. I loved these two, but I would never want to be them.
First-time feature writer / director Augustine Frizzell has a shrewd understanding of female friendship and brings a lighthearted blend of “American Honey” and “Spring Breakers” to the film. The movie is at times strangely insightful and at others, crude and disgusting. Yes, there are plenty of potty humor jokes that are played for (successful) laughs.
What I really loved about this indie is that its protagonists are two aimless dreamers who likely aren’t facing the brightest future, and it gives a voice to those who are rarely represented in movies. Ultimately no life lessons are learned, but you can’t help but root for these misfits to realize their goal of eating donuts by the ocean.