Never Goin' Back
Starring Maia Mitchell, Camila Morrone, Kyle Mooney, Aristotle Abraham II, Joel Allen
Galveston Island has had its fair share of appearances in movies over the years. “Evening Star” the 1996 sequel to acclaimed “Terms of Endearment” being the most notable. “Tree of Life” (2011) featured the west side of the island while 2016’s shark attack film “The Shallows” mentioned Galveston but never actually shot here. “Never Goin’ Back” is the first feature film from actress turned director Augustine Frizzell. Her script follows two high school dropouts, trying to get to Galveston for a break, taking numerous jabs at the islands expense. The trashy, drug addicted teens make Galveston their salvation, desperately trying to escape their outer Dallas slum life.
Angela (Mitchell) and Jesse (Morrone) are more than roommates or best friends. They dropped out of high school together, they waitress together at a local diner and share everything. Angela just spent all their rent money on a beach front condo in Galveston to Jesse’s surprise. They intend to work ten straight shifts to make up the rent money in a week. Their problems begin when Jesse’s brother Dustin (Allen), another roommate, tries his hand at drug dealing. Cops arrive at the house, discovering illegal substances in the girl’s bedroom. Jail time puts a big dent in their shift work, a celebratory drug party following their release resulting in losing their jobs, doesn’t help their situation. Getting to Galveston might be the least of their worries after their week of irresponsible behavior.
The incessant drugs use scenes seem to have this filmmakers stamp of approval as “Never Goin’ Back” has little to no moral repercussions or life lessons.
Frizzell, who is from Garland, Texas and appeared in other Texas made films like “A Ghost Story”, “Hellion” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, doesn’t elicit much promise in her future behind the camera. Her screenplay barely has a plot as the camera needlessly follows these females disrespecting everything in their path. The incessant drugs use scenes seem to have this filmmakers stamp of approval as “Never Goin’ Back” has little to no moral repercussions or life lessons. Apparently, the intention here was to be funny with scenarios of projectile vomit (maybe the most fake looking ever shot), a bucket diarrhea scene that is borrowed right out of “Bridesmaids” and endless sexual scenarios. It’s not funny or even amusing as the girls just meander around the story without ever pushing it forward.
In one scene where the girls tell Dustin they are escaping to Galveston, he asks why they picked Galveston and not other places. This particular scene continues to degrade Galveston, showcasing Frizzell’s apparent contempt for the island. What consistently amazes me, as Galveston’s name continues to show up on the big screen, is how local filmmakers can’t even produce images that correctly identify the region. Later this year another actress turned director Mélanie Laurent (“Inglorious Bastards”) will unveil her crime thriller simply titled Galveston, that was shot almost entirely on Tybee Island, Georgia. For now, "Never Goin’ Back" will set claim to one of the worst films of 2018, not because of it’s Galveston bashing, but because it fails to offer anything cinematic, entertaining or of value to any conversation.
Tawdry subject matter in incompetent local hands proves a miserable movie going experience.