'The Beach Bum' director says a song choice by Matthew McConaughey became the heart of the movie

Neon/ViceMatthew McConaughey in ‘The Beach Bum.’
  • “The Beach Bum” director Harmony Korine said a suggestion by Matthew McConaughey turned a scene Korine wrote into something much more powerful.
  • McConaughey played the song “Is That All There Is?” in a scene where his character Moondog and his wife Minnie (played by Isla Fisher) are dancing.
  • “It really did illustrate the moment in a way that I hadn’t thought of,” Korine told Business Insider. “So we went with it and in some ways that’s the heart of the film.”

Director Harmony Korine has been known his entire career for figuring things out on the fly. That can range from how his script evolves over the production to the way he shoots a scene.

And his latest, “The Beach Bum,” is no exception, as it turns out a suggestion by his lead actor, Matthew McConaughey, led to one scene becoming the movie’s core.

In “The Beach Bum” (in theatres Friday), McConaughey plays Moondog, a burnout poet who spends his days living comfortably in the Florida Keys thanks to being married to a wealthy woman, Minnie (Isla Fisher).

The two have an open relationship, as Moondog is often in the company of women and Minnie is sleeping with a drug runner named Lingerie (Snoop Dogg). But the two seem very much in love when they reunite for their daughter’s wedding.

In one scene, the two gallivant around Miami in a drunk and high state dancing and listening to the jazzy Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” from a giant boombox Moondog is carrying around. Korine said it was McConaughey who came up with the song choice and that it completely changed the dynamic of the scene.

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“When Moondog and Minnie are dancing that was written but I didn’t know the song. It really wasn’t going to be what it is in the film now,” Korine told Business Insider. “That song was something Matthew brought to the moment. We were just going to have him dancing with the radio around his neck with no music. I was going to add it later.”

Korine said that all changed when McConaughey put on “Is That All There Is?” and and Korine heard the lyrics – Is that all there is, is that all there is / If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing / Let’s break out the booze and have a ball.

He realised the song perfectly captured the relationship between Moondog and Minnie.

“I thought, ‘Wow.’ It really was something he had been thinking about,” Korine said of McConaughey’s contribution. “It really did illustrate the moment in a way that I hadn’t thought of. So we went with it and in some ways that’s the heart of the film.”

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