Take “Spring Breakers” by way of “The Florida Project,” add a drizzle of “American Honey,” and you’ve got writer-director Augustine Frizzell’s directorial debut, the audacious, anarchic girls-gone-wild comedy “Never Goin’ Back,” set deep in the heart of small-town Texas.
Camila Morrone and Maia Mitchell star as Jessie and Angela, best friends and high school dropouts, living with Jessie’s doofus brother Dustin (Joel Allen), and working at the local diner while dreaming of a beachfront vacation in Galveston for Jessie’s 17th birthday. “Dolphies, dude,” is their shared mantra, visions of sand, breezes and blunts dancing in their heads, their hotel room already paid for with their rent money. All they have to do is work ten shifts in the next week — easy, right? Wrong.
Frizzell carefully crafts the singular bond between these girls, who are more than friends; they’re sisters, lovers, life partners, enablers and protectors. It’s them against the world, which isn’t a nice or safe place for them. Men are a constant threat, whether it’s Dustin’s drug pals showing up to repo a TV at 7 a.m., an older man who shames them in a grocery store or their randy roommate Brandon (Kyle Mooney). But Frizzell never lets Jessie and Angela off the hook either — when the girls land in jail for a couple of days, or show up at work high, it’s the result of their own cockamamie decision making.
Frizzell laces social commentary on race, class and gender throughout this raunchy female friendship comedy that also traffics in gross-out body humor. Anchored by a pair of effervescent and authentically lived-in performances from Mitchell and Morrone, “Never Goin’ Back” is a sweaty, silly summer adventure, and a sincere shout-out to the power of best friendship.
‘Never Goin’ Back’
Rated: R, for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug use and brief nudity — all involving teens
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: ArcLight Hollywood