What happens when you add female writer/director Augustine Frizzell with two perfectly matched female leads? One fucked up comedy that will have you laughing your ass off while desperately rooting for them to succeed. Sundance is stuffed to the brim with exquisite films and definitely deep, dark dramas are the ring leaders. So seeing Never Goin’ Back was the dose of comedic relief that I yearned for.
This film certainly breathes life into serious subject matter, but doesn’t stay too focused on it. For anyone who has or is living through an adventurous, or perhaps, difficult upbringing, Never Goin’ Back will make you cackle at the ludicrous situations only your teenage-self could have gotten away with.
Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) share a bed, living under one roof with Jessie’s older douche-bag brother Dustin (Joel Allen). Also Jessie’s legal guardian, the two girls don’t only live with him, but his perverted friend Brandon (Kyle Mooney) as well. The lack of parental oversight is faintly pressed upon, leaving us to assume the world has not been kind to them – But regardless of whatever circumstances they may have withstood, it’s clear the two have found a way to still lead their own lives with much tenacity and grit.
Opening on Angela waking up Jessie with a drawn dick on her face, sums up a precise foreshadow for the fun this film brings as well as the structure of their relationship. Sure, it’s just a dick, but the love the girls have for each other is vehemently on display through their comfortabity. Is that a word? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter here – Because its the perfect way to describe the situation and their very serene relationship.
In a sense, they’re also saviors to themselves. Consistently helping one another from going mad, because being two waitress high school dropouts is still better than living that life alone.
Angela soon decides to surprise Jessie with a beach condo in Galveston, Texas for her birthday – Admitting that she used most of their rent money to do so. But, nothing can go wrong, as they have a plan all worked out… covering all shifts possible during the week so they come out even.
For the sake of the film, it’s great how all goes to shit when their brother’s future best friend Tony (Kendall Smith) robs them in a drug deal gone bad, as cops then find the girls drugs whilst them getting a quick trip to juvie. Stressing over the rent money, their trip goes out the window, while bad decisions and roadblocks get in the way of keeping them together.
The obstacles faced, include, but are not limited to: Spilled bong-water drenched uniforms, beer drenched uniforms, being called whores by a bigot, accidental intake of space brownies before asking for your job back, a bitch-and-half hostess, fake threesome promises, a dick in a hot dog bun with spicy mustard, or was it dijon? Constipation, shitting in a bucket…Still hungry? A little vomiting… and some good ol’ fashion blackmail!
The girl’s here are indeed charming, and do definitely stand out, but veer from the typical Hollywood prototypes – Being beautiful in a time where it’s okay to be both petite and curvy. Even the obnoxious band of pin-headed men lead by Dustin make you love them for… being just that. Also, scenes such as when the girls are handcuffed, being taken to the police car and when they’re walking off a public bus, stoned as hell, are just two examples of many comically timed moments that will form immense guttural laughter.
This film isn’t perfect, because life itself isn’t. The energy and effort screams independent and personal, so much so that on those attributes alone it’s a wild success. These girls who want nothing more than to escape for the beach, grasp the fact their static existence needs change, and they do so together.
Some will love it… and others will judge. However, in the real world, there are plentiful amounts of shitty people and predicaments – And with the storytelling in Never Goin’ Back, you come to understand we all need laughter at times… particularly in dire situations, to help hold your head up high. I mean, lets be real here, everybody has a little racthetness inside – And sometimes that’s exactly what you need to make sure you’re never goin’ back to a place you don’t want to remain.
By Amanda Nova