The best that can be said of the indie comedy Never Goin’ Back is that it’s a far more believable version of Two Broke Girls. Whereas that sitcom presented a female duo too lucky and plucky in New York City to be considered poor and struggling, this film’s two leads fit a more realistic profile of lower-class teenagers in a retail wasteland of south Texas. They can barely make rent or utilities, have the most destructive of roommates, and seek small pleasures in drugs after work. That being said, the movie tries so hard for comedy in its one wild day for two trouble-attracting girls that it may as well be a sitcom. At least the laugh track would let me know what’s supposed to be funny.
To their credit, Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone do have an easy likability in playing the playful and reactionary Angela and Jessie, teenage dropouts working at a restaurant to pay the bills and hating every minute of it. They have to contend with snarky coworkers who want to get them fired and snotty kid customers who pour syrup on their shoes, and the only thing that keeps them going is the anodyne afterwork rituals of getting stoned and goofing off. Seeking a more pleasurable escape, they plan out a trip to the beach to give themselves a much-needed vacation.
But the world always seems against them, and the trip to Galveston becomes a struggle. Due in part to their accident-prone natures and questionable roommates, their bad luck snowballs quickly. They’re robbed and arrested, they run out of water at their house, and their nosy roommates cause too much trouble in their gangster-style endeavors. What starts as an issue of trying to secure enough hours at work to pay for their rent and vacation soon turns into a battle keep their jobs—not easy to do when you accidentally take too many drugs.
It’s in some ways a promising sign that we’re living in an age when women are headlining a comedy in the lowbrow vein of Dude, Where’s My Car? Don’t let the A24 studio logo fool you; there’s no profound commentary in Never Goin’ Back on the squalor of youth on their own. Shirking a contemplative nature, the film functions more as a series of immature antics that continue to mount from stupid ideas. It’s not so much that Angela and Jessie have misfortune as it is the fact that they make terrible decisions in who they associate with and how they function. They stop by a party of their merry familiars to use the washing machine for their clothes, thinking nothing of the fact that some of the food at the party may be special. Of course, they will consume too much and stumble stoned into work so that we can watch them trip out while ogling pancakes as music plays in their heads.
But good fortune works out far too well for these girls as well to wrap a content bow around its story. They lash out in a grocery store at one elderly gentleman who sneers at their pilfering and attire. They go the extra mile of insulting him, calling him out as a weird sex pervert and giving him the finger. The girls must have a sixth sense, because it turns out they’re right. How convenient that the film won’t even embrace the protagonists as being too bitter in their frustrations as the world.
Despite some fantastic performances from Mitchell and Morrone, both so early in their careers, it’s still a lame-brained and nasty comedy smeared with puke and poop gags (one scene featuring both). I wish I could say it’s a testament to pushing women into different types of movies, but this isn’t the first Dumb and Dumber–style buddy comedy I’ve seen of this nature. What I can say is that it’s certainly not the worst of the lot, at least trying to be somewhat artistic with slow motion and music as one of the girls poops in a bucket while the other vomits on a store manager.