"Extremely Aimless and Explicit"
What You Need To Know:
The realism and acting in BEACH RATS may hold the viewer’s interest, but the story and character development often seem just as aimless as the main character. It eventually becomes obvious Frankie doesn’t know what he really wants, but it’s not clear why. Whatever the reason, though, BEACH RATS has a strong Romantic, politically correct worldview, with strong foul language and excessive homosexual content, lewd scenes, extreme, nudity, and drug abuse. It’s doubtful whether average moviegoers, much less media-wise moviegoers, will find BEACH RATS appealing.
(RoRo, PCPC, HoHoHo, C, B, LL, V, SSS, NNN, AA, DDD, MMM) Strong Romantic, politically correct worldview, with very strong depicted homosexual behavior in several scenes and strong heterosexual activity in a couple scenes, is under-developed through poor filmmaking and a weak premise and includes a main character (an older teenager) who’s engaging in promiscuous homosexual behavior with older men and doing drugs but seems afraid of publicly declaring a homosexual “identity” and is also fornicating with a young woman his age and is friends with aimless males his age who beat up a young homosexual man to steal his marijuana, so there’s a politically correct message against anti-homosexual bullying and supporting “coming out” as a homosexual, but the movie also can be read as an indictment of both homosexual and heterosexual promiscuity, drug use and anonymous homosexual pickups, plus there’s a brief Catholic funeral in the movie where a hymn is partially sung, and the priest is a positive figure though Christianity doesn’t otherwise impact the characters, and protagonist’s mother chastises her son for hanging out with losers and tries to find out what’s bothering him; 18 obscenities (mostly “f” words but not all) and zero profanities; older teenagers beat up a young homosexual man to steal his marijuana and leave him in the ocean as waves come onto him, and protagonist’s father dies of cancer; very strong sexual content includes older teenager looks at homosexual hookup website where men flash their bodies (including sometimes full frontal male nudity), teenager hooks up with older men for homosexual meetings near a beach and in a hotel room, depicted fornication scene between teenager and a young woman his age, depicted clothed sodomy scene between teenager and young woman, some sexual dialogue, brother discovers his younger teenage sister has a boy in her bedroom, and he kicks him out, an image of upper female nudity in one scene, images of rear male nudity in at least two scenes, young woman in bra and panties passionately kisses teenager in his bed, but he’s uncomfortable going any further, and she angrily leaves, and other passionate heterosexual and homosexual kissing; many images of full frontal male nudity and upper male nudity, obscured images of male genital nudity, an image of upper female nudity, images of young woman in bra and panties; underage alcohol use; smoking tobacco, older teenager snorts opioid pills for his dying father he has stolen and crushed up, people smoke marijuana, and teenager’s friends beat up young man to steal his marijuana so they can get high; and, stealing, male youths are aimless, young woman picks up male protagonist during a night out on the beach, son hides things from his mother and seems numbed about his father losing his battle with terminal cancer, and conflict between older teenager and his younger teenage sister.
BEACH RATS is a slice-of-life independent movie about an aimless teenager abusing drugs in Brooklyn, who can’t decide whether he wants to pursue a homosexual lifestyle or establish an ongoing romance with a girl who’s attracted to him. BEACH RATS seems underdeveloped and just as aimless as its main character, with some strong foul language and excessive lewd content, extreme nudity and drug abuse. Because it’s underdeveloped and aimless, viewers can see in BEACH RATS almost whatever they want to see, but the movie does seem promote a Romantic, politically correct worldview.
The story opens with young Frankie hanging out with his three thuggish buddies who seem just as aimless and drug-addled as he is. While watching the summer fireworks at Coney Island, a teenage girl named Simone starts flirting with Frankie. They end up in his bedroom at his parents’ house, where his father lies dying from cancer on the living room couch. They make out, but Frankie isn’t ready to fornicate with Simone, unlike her. So, she leaves.
The reason for Frankie’s reluctance becomes clear as he trolls some homosexual porn sites on the Internet and starts hooking up with some of the older men on the site. Even so, a day or two later, Frankie apologizes to Simone, and they soon hook up in his bedroom.
Although Simone otherwise is a stable girl, with a job, Frankie keeps trolling the Internet to hook up with older men. Meanwhile, his father dies, and Simone shows up at the funeral. Eventually, however, she chastises Frankie for his aimless lifestyle, which includes snorting the pain killer Oxycontin, which he gets from his dying father’s drug cabinet.
One night after breaking up with Simone, Frankie tries to hook up with a younger man over the Internet. However, his three friends show up at the meeting place, and things go from bad to worse.
The realism and acting in BEACH RATS may hold the viewer’s interest, but the story and character development too often seem just as aimless as the main character. Also, Frankie goes from being active to being passive at the end when some poor decisions result in his three friends getting out of hand while Frankie just watches, not knowing what to do, or being too scared to do anything. The movie doesn’t say whether Frankie and his friends just graduated high school or are 19 or even 20, but Frankie’s still living at home while his father lies dying on the living room couch in hospice care.
It eventually becomes obvious, though, that Frankie doesn’t know what he really wants, but it’s not clear why. Was Frankie just afraid of “coming out” with his friends and family because of how they would react. Or, was there something more to it? It also wasn’t clear why Frankie and his three friends were so aimless and so focused on drugs. Boredom could be the root cause of this behavior, but the movie itself doesn’t really say, or even attempt to provide a clue for viewers.
MOVIEGUIDE® suspects the writer and director wanted to make a Romantic, politically liberal or leftist statement against what the Left calls “homophobia.” If so, though, that message really didn’t come across strong enough in the movie. Ultimately, the movie doesn’t make either heterosexuality or homosexuality seem very attractive. In fact, a generous interpretation of BEACH RATS could say that the movie shows what happens when you mix boredom, aimlessness, drugs, lack of a dominant father figure, laziness, and sexual promiscuity. The movie also contains a positive scene of a Catholic funeral for the main character’s father, but, otherwise, Christianity doesn’t seem to impact Frankie and his family in any meaningful, much less really positive, way. So, even a generous interpretation of BEACH RATS can’t justify the movie’s excessive foul language, lewd content and extreme nudity.
That said, it’s clear that the friends use their need to get high to justify an attack on a young homosexual man to steal his marijuana. It’s also clear that Frankie is disturbed and guilt-ridden by what his friends do. However, there’s no real resolution to all of Frankie’s confused emotional state and confused behavior. The filmmakers just leave viewers hanging at the end of BEACH RATS.
It’s doubtful, therefore, whether the average moviegoer, much less media-wise moviegoers, will find BEACH RATS appealing, if at all.