A couple of stoner buddies stumble into some escapades in suburban Dallas while trying to raise enough money to get away for a beach vacation in Galveston while also covering their upcoming rent. Their odyssey includes a brief lockup in juvie, showing up late for work high on pot brownies while wearing wrinkled uniforms that reek of beer, an ill-conceived holdup of a sandwich shop, a running constipation gag, and a plethora of raunchy jokes. The notes that Never Goin’ Back hits seem overly familiar yet fresh. Debut feature director Augustine Frizzell (recipient of a 2014 AFS Grant) handles the antics with a light but knowing touch. And instead of Seth Rogen knockoffs, Frizzell’s stoner buds happen to be two teens of the female persuasion. Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone convey a delightful insouciance as the two girls, and their onscreen chemistry practically burns a hole in the screen. Never Goin’ Back and its overworked tropes should, by all rights, be a trifle of a film, but what Frizzell and her two leads deliver is more fun than a floating party boat.
Angela (Mitchell) and Jessie (Morrone) are two 17-year-old dropouts who are learning that reality, indeed, bites. They support themselves by working as waitresses in a pancake house, and whatever money isn’t saved for rent on the shabby house they share with Jessie’s brother Dustin (Allen) and friend Brandon (Mooney), is spent on booze, pot, and laundromat quarters. The girls are inseparable and go everywhere arm in arm, protective of each other and blithely having fun as they playfully disarm the multiple jerks who cross their path. Rapid flashbacks reveal a few of the many cockeyed schemes they’ve dreamt up for getting out of work, and a couple of fantasy scenes (or are they flash-forwards?) show the pair frolicking on the beach and eating donuts. Their friendship is the film’s secret weapon, and its portrayal is what sets Never Goin’ Back apart from standard stoner raunch fests. Since the movie ends in the exact location where it begins – Angela and Jessie goofing around in the bed that they share – Never Goin’ Back seems oddly titled. The film’s contact high, however, is thoroughly genuine.
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